Wednesday, October 31, 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.
In recognition of Crime Prevention Week
Hon. Ms. Buckway: I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Legislative Assembly in recognition of Crime Prevention Week, October 27 through November 3, 2001.
Crime Prevention Week is a time for all Yukoners to focus their attention on the crime prevention issues that affect us all. It is an opportunity to raise our awareness of practical crime prevention methods and the opportunity to highlight the excellent work done by Yukoners throughout the year to safeguard their community.
The theme of this year's Crime Prevention Week - "Crime Prevention: A Community Responsibility" - acknowledges that, in order to safeguard our homes and communities, it takes the effort of a range of partners, including government, community organizations and individual Yukoners.
Here in the territory, Crime Prevention Yukon is a vital partner in mobilizing our community to address crime prevention issues. It is a grassroots community organization that works to prevent crime by building skills and awareness in communities.
Over the past number of years Crime Prevention Yukon has organized a variety of events for this important week. The Government of Yukon continues to work with and support Crime Prevention Yukon in their efforts. We are seeing more and more Yukoners working together to create and maintain exciting partnerships. There are projects like the prevention-of-bullying conference which resulted in the formation of an ongoing working group, the peer-support network which was developed by a community youth organization, the kids' recreation fund, which has been enthusiastically supported by both the sellers and the buyers of cookie dough. The Yukon youth leadership project operated again this summer in nine communities, along with many, many more, all of which have raised awareness and contributed to the prevention of crime in the Yukon.
There are a variety of events taking place this week for Crime Prevention Week 2001. They include a public marketplace at the Qwanlin Mall where local organizations provide the public with information on crime prevention and community safety, a Whitehorse safer city information sharing session and a prevention-of-bullying workshop.
Finally, the Building on Strengths crime prevention conference will take place in Whitehorse tomorrow and Friday at Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre. This will be the fourth crime prevention conference held in Yukon, and we hope it will be as successful and generate as much enthusiasm and awareness as the last three.
An exciting addition to the conference this year will be the presentation by Crime Prevention Yukon of the Yukon crime prevention awards. On Friday, 20 crime prevention awards will be presented to Yukoners who have shown outstanding efforts in making our communities safer.
In this International Year of the Volunteer, I feel it's important that we recognize the Yukoners who have dedicated countless hours toward creating safe communities and preventing crime. From auxiliary police officers, victim assistant volunteers, and citizens on patrol to justice committee members to individuals who work with young people to make a difference in their lives. The ways in which Yukoners give of their time are countless.
The Government of Yukon applauds the many volunteers, and I wish to extend a thank you to them for making a difference. The Government of Yukon and this Legislative Assembly are committed to working with and supporting Yukoners in an effort to make our communities, neighbourhoods and homes safe and healthy.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Duncan: I have a legislative return in response to a question on Tuesday, October 23, 2001, from the leader of the official opposition respecting renewal.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling a letter on the priority of maintenance orders as requested by Mr. Jenkins.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Tucker: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) Yukoners rely on a dependable network of highways to connect our communities and to support our economy;
(2) the deteriorating condition of Yukon highways is directly proportionate to the capital spending priorities of previous administrations, which had reduced spending for highways from approximately $23 million in the 1992-93 budget to less than $4 million when the current government took office in May of 2000;
(3) the Yukon Liberal government has steadily increased spending on highway infrastructure by more than 300 percent since taking office; and
THAT this House commends the Yukon Liberal government for recognizing that a dramatic increase in highways spending was necessary to properly restore the level of service that is consistent with what Yukoners want and what our economy needs.
Mr. McLarnon: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) through the hard work and dedication of many individuals and governments over the years, the Government of Canada, Government of the Yukon, and the Council of Yukon First Nations have finally reached agreement on devolution;
(2) this agreement is in no small part attributable to the much-improved working relationship between all three levels of government;
(3) for the first time in history, Yukoners will have the ability to be a full and contributing partner in Canadian Confederation by actually making the decisions that affect our economic prosperity, rather than having them imposed by the federal government; and
THAT this House recognizes that we Yukoners are more than capable of managing our own lands and resources, and that negotiation of this devolution agreement and its finalization under this Yukon Liberal government is a monumentally significant step toward that end.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
Teacher mentoring endowment fund
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It is with great pleasure that I rise today to announce a new initiative that will benefit teachers, students, schools and Yukon communities. It is an initiative that represents a long-term investment in support of Yukon teachers and, therefore, in the future of our children's education.
I am proud to say that the Department of Education is providing $750,000 in trust to the Yukon Teachers Association. These funds will be invested for the long-term in the teacher mentoring endowment fund. This investment will provide benefits for years and years to come.
A large part of the interest generated by this investment will support the Yukon's new teacher mentoring program. This is a program that began operating this fall. As we wait for sufficient interest to accumulate on the investment, we are announcing today that $15,000 from the Yukon Teachers Association and $10,000 from the Department of Education will be funding the teacher mentoring program this year.
Mr. Speaker, teacher mentoring programs are in place in many jurisdictions across Canada. We are modelling our Yukon program on one of the most highly successful, that being in British Columbia.
Under this program, new teachers are paired with experienced or retired teachers. They will have opportunities to watch one another directly in the classroom. They will also have opportunities to meet several times a year to share information and expertise.
The Yukon Teachers Association and the Department of Education know the importance of helping new teachers adapt and adjust to their new teaching assignments in Yukon schools. Currently, the department provides support to new teachers through in-service training, conferences and one-on-one assistance from curriculum specialists. But sometimes new teachers can benefit from more support.
Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that, in some of our smaller schools, there is a smaller staff. There can be a fairly high staff turnover in some years. Sometimes there just isn't the number of experienced teachers around to provide the guidance and mentoring to new teachers.
The teacher mentoring program will help address that need. New teachers and experienced teachers will be able to share their expertise and knowledge.
Experienced teachers can provide tips on lesson planning, classroom management and on finding the right curriculum materials. At the same time, new teachers are often up on the latest developments in education and they can share their knowledge in areas such as brain research, for example.
In the end, everyone wins. New teachers feel more effective and fulfilled in their jobs. Experienced teachers gain the satisfaction of being able to share their wealth of experience. All of this benefits the students, the schools and Yukon communities in general.
As I said at the beginning, the teacher mentoring endowment fund represents an investment in teachers and in the future of our children's education. It also represents collaboration between our government and the Yukon Teachers Association and Retired Teachers Association. All three partners know that it is important to provide new teachers with the mentoring and support they need to adjust to their new jobs. They also know how important it is for Yukon to attract great teachers and keep them here.
This initiative also addresses two of the commitments in the Liberal platform - implementing a mentoring program and enhancing teacher-training capacity within the Yukon.
I am confident that this new program will help us achieve those goals.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Watson Lake, on a point of order.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, under our new Standing Orders, we have agreed in this Assembly that ministerial statements shall be of a length of four minutes. To the best of my ability to time this ministerial statement, we are now over four minutes.
Speaker: Thank you very much. I apologize to the House that the ministerial statement - I have three minutes 42 seconds. I acknowledge also that the ministerial statement started and I was doing something else and didn't get my clock on. There certainly were 15 or 20 seconds before I turned it on.
Based on that, in order to be as fair as I can, I acknowledge that and I think there is a point of order and I have to rule that the four minutes has expired. I'm at three minutes 42 seconds. It took quite a long time before I turned it on. My apologies for that. It was strictly an error.
Mrs. Peter: I rise today to respond to this ministerial statement on the teacher mentoring endowment fund. We support the development of a fund that will support and enhance the quality of teacher experiences in the Yukon. It is important that government move toward addressing the high turnover rate that occurs and look at ways to support teachers in new environments.
The investment of $750,000 to support teachers is a good investment. It is ironic, though, that the minister is investing more in education while refusing to fund the First Nation Education Commission. Announcing a small amount of $25,000 to get the program going is a drop in the bucket, given this government's huge surplus.
When the minister says that we need to wait for sufficient interest to accumulate on this investment, I feel the need to point out that it could be a long wait. At the Bank of Canada's current interest rate of two percent, we will realize $15,000 at the end of this year. Will the minister consider increasing the endowment to allow the interest to be sufficient? Or perhaps the minister will be willing to increase the bridge funding and provide at least an equal amount to support the First Nation Education Commission.
Mr. Jenkins: On behalf of the Yukon Party caucus, we welcome this initiative to create a trust fund to establish a teacher mentoring endowment fund. Pairing new teachers with experienced or retired teachers is a very good idea.
As in the case with most professions and trades, nothing beats practical experience. Combining the exuberance of the new with the experience of the tried and true will surely be of benefit to new teachers and a rewarding experience for established teachers.
I found it somewhat ironic that on the day the minister chose to make this announcement, there were media reports that there is a desperate shortage of substitute teachers, now even here in Whitehorse. The lack of trained substitute teachers used to be a rural school problem. Now Whitehorse schools are experiencing this very same difficulty.
Mr. Speaker, it is a basic fact that the Yukon is going to need new teachers and, unlike most other jurisdictions however, this requirement for new teachers will not be because of increasing school enrolments; it will be because many of our experienced teachers are reaching retirement age.
Establishing a teacher mentorship program now will allow our experienced teachers to pass on some of their skills to the new teachers who are hopefully coming on stream. While the Minister of Education from Riverdale is patting himself on the back for this initiative, he should realize that much more has to be done to attract and retain teachers in the Yukon.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, referring to an earlier ruling when you asked members to refer to people by their ministry or the name of their riding, "the Minister of Education from Riverdale" has already been ruled in this House as out of order.
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on the point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, earlier in this session here today, the Minister of Community and Transportation Services referred to me by name. That's not permitted. No point of order was raised by the government of the day. It's no point of order; it's just a dispute between members. I referred to the Minister of Education as the Minister of Education.
Speaker: Order please. Previously I have ruled that referring to "the Minister of Education for Riverdale" as not really being proper, as an attempt at insulting language or likely to create disorder. It has created disorder. I will continue to stay with the ruling that that is improper. I'm not going to ask that it be withdrawn, but I would ask the members to be more judicious in their choice of words.
I'll ask the leader of the third party to please continue.
Mr. Jenkins: I would urge the Minister of Education to work with the Yukon Teachers Association and Yukon College, for example, to develop a teacher training program in Yukon that is open to all Yukon graduates to obtain their education degree here in the Yukon. In his response, I would like the minister to respond favourably to this Yukon Party initiative.
Out of respect for Yukon's experienced teachers, whose dedication and participation will be required to make this mentorship program work, I would ask the minister to also make another commitment, to establish an honour roll of Yukon teachers. This honour roll would recognize teachers who have made significant contributions to Yukon's education system. I am confident that the minister will have no difficulty in agreeing to this initiative.
Further, I seek a commitment from the minister for another initiative - also a Yukon Party initiative - to give a priority to Yukon-educated teachers for employment opportunities in Yukon schools, as well as opportunities for Yukon teachers to upgrade and expand their skills.
Once again, these are initiatives that the minister should not have any difficulty in agreeing to.
As the minister responsible for provoking the first teacher strike in Yukon history, purporting that the government had no money, he must realize that he is going to have to do a lot more to redeem his own credibility and to recruit and retain teachers if the Yukon's education system is going to maintain its current standards.
The teacher mentoring endowment fund is a very good first step for this minister to make and I welcome it.
I look forward to the minister making more positive announcements in the days to come in the education field.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I do appreciate the constructive comments from the members opposite. I do take exception to a couple of the comments made. Of course, I don't, and nor does this side of the House, feel that this is merely "a drop in the bucket". It is a $750,000 commitment that we are making directly to the Yukon Teachers Association.
I would like to inform the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin that it was the previous government that had terminated the funding for the FNEC within CYFN. The previous Minister of Education terminated that funding opportunity, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the opposition has some comments on this wonderful venture. The Retired Teachers Association and the Yukon Teachers Association are very pleased with this initiative. In fact, they have plans in place to start immediately. These associations recognize the need for mentoring for our teachers, both rural and urban. This will allow a teacher to discuss with a colleague their problems, solutions and successes. Chances are, there has been a colleague who has experienced similar situations and has a lot of insight and knowledge to share and pass on to new teachers.
Mr. Speaker, I noted the opposition questioned the Premier yesterday about the Yukon Foundation endowment fund. Perhaps the members opposite just missed the line item. The Supplementary Budget No. 1, 2002-03 was tabled in this Legislature on October 15. I would also like to remind everyone in the House that this is the third fund created by this government, along with the $250,000 for the new Youth Voices endowment fund. This government has also placed an additional $436,000 into the Yukon historic resources fund.
So, we are listening to the public and I am listening to the members opposite. As a matter of fact, the Member for Klondike suggested that we create what's called a BEAD program - a bachelor of education after degree program - and that has already been looked into and we are looking at options to provide it. That is an initiative of this government, Mr. Speaker, not of the member's party.
We are moving forward on a good number of issues, Mr. Speaker, and we are building bridges with the Yukon Teachers Association.
Thank you very much.
Speaker: This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: School busing contract
Mr. Fentie: Today I have a question for the Minister of Education on the very serious matter of his government's political interference with the school busing contract. Yesterday, the minister stated in this House, "The Member for Whitehorse West was doing his job outside while this House wasn't sitting, so he was not the Speaker at the time." Well, Mr. Speaker, this again is incorrect information. It's simply not the case. What we have here, Mr. Speaker, is the powerful odour of mendacity. Will the minister stand up and set the record straight, instead of digging himself in deeper by repeating incorrect information?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I welcome the opportunity to address the issue once again. As I have said repeatedly in this House, the Member for Whitehorse West was simply doing his job. He was out in the community, speaking to friends, constituents and the general public about efficiencies, and asking for advice on how we could stretch the taxpayers' dollar - something that we take very seriously on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the members on this side of the House have attended all kinds of meetings over the summer and listened to school councils, First Nations, chambers of commerce, the business community and, yes, we also appreciate hearing from unionized workers.
Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate that they are continuing to pursue this line of questioning. It has been going on for a considerable amount of time and, regardless of what I say - it really doesn't matter - they are unwilling to listen to the true facts.
Mr. Fentie: Well, let me point out to the minister that it's the minister's answers and the action of the government side that lends credence to our line of questioning. This minister has absolutely no more credibility on this matter. In fact, Mr. Speaker, this minister is the point person on another Liberal government cover-up.
My question is to the Premier, who must show some moral leadership on this issue. Now that this Minister of Education has been thoroughly disgraced with his incorrect information on the floor of this House, will the Premier restore - or at least attempt to restore - some of the Liberals' tarnished image by having this matter independently reviewed?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, we obviously don't share the opinions of the member opposite who is aggrandizing opinions he is expressing on behalf of the Yukon public. I think he misspoke himself on those issues.
In a media report, when asked to explain why it was okay for a former Minister of Education to meet with the union just days before the contract was put out to tender, the Member for Watson Lake simply stated that that is different. Yes, I agree it was different. The Member for Whitehorse West, who does not sit in Cabinet or Management Board, met with the union long before the tender was let out on the contract, and he was simply seeking efficiencies. Compared to this action, the former Minister of Education who met with the union just days before the contract was put to tender - and she was a member of Cabinet and of Management Board and was the minister directly responsible for that tender, and she was most definitely, most definitely in a position of influence, unlike the Member for Whitehorse West.
Question re: Education Act review
Mrs. Peter: My question today is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday, the minister said that it was not the government's job to fund the First Nation Education Commission, yet the minister does fund the other partners in education - the Department of Education, the Yukon Teachers Association and the School Councils Association. Will the minister tell us who is responsible for funding the First Nation Education Commission, as is defined in the Education Act?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Well, I want to correct the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin on one thing. There is no core funding provided to the Yukon Teachers Association. This funding, as a matter of fact, is a portion of the negotiated agreement between the Yukon territorial government and the Yukon Teachers Association. This is a very similar arrangement between the territorial government and the Yukon Government Employees Union.
I think, Mr. Speaker, that it's appropriate that I provide a little bit of history on this issue. The previous Minister of Education, in an October 9, 1997 letter to the Grand Chief stated, and I quote: "This final year of funding to FNEC is being provided to assist the Council of Yukon First Nations and the commission in making the transition. In future, as an advisory body to the leadership, it is my expectation that the commission operation would be funded by CYFN at their discretion." This letter flies in the face of the opposition's questions. It was not this government that cut the funding to the First Nation Education Commission. This cut in funding occurred in 1998, and we took office in 2000.
Mrs. Peter: We are talking about the year 2001. The Grand Chief has taken the position that the minister is attempting to turn the clock back and silence the Yukon First Nations in education matters entirely.
Yukon First Nations do not feel respected or supported in their dealings with this government. What plans does this minister have in place to rebuild a positive and necessary relationship with the Yukon First Nations on educational matters?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Obviously the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin is not listening to the answers. It was a previous government that damaged this relationship.
Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, to clarify for the members opposite, Council of Yukon First Nations has a department of education. Within that department of education, they have the First Nation Education Commission. Prior to 1997, the First Nation Education Commission spoke on behalf of Council of Yukon First Nations education issues. In 1997, that changed. The commission became an advisory body to the leadership of Council of Yukon First Nations. Council of Yukon First Nations then determined that only their leadership could speak directly on behalf of their membership. Since that time, only project-specific funding, such as participation in the review of the Education Act, has been provided to the Council of Yukon First Nations. This government does not fund other governments' departments, Mr. Speaker. Quite frankly, the lack of funding is the direct result of the previous government, not this government, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Peter: Education of our children is very important to us. Having input into the education system in which our children are being educated is very important to us. Knowing that our input is recognized as valuable and necessary is also important. First Nations are seriously considering drawing down authority for education under their final agreement. Is that the direction that this minister is moving toward?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: First and foremost, Mr. Speaker, it is entirely up to each and every individual First Nation as to what actions they take on drawing down education funds from the federal government.
Mr. Speaker, this government is responsible for the education of all Yukon people. In fact, the main objective of the Department of Education is to ensure that effective, lifelong learning opportunities are available for all Yukon people so that they may achieve their personal potential. This means working with all our education partners - teachers, students, parents, First Nation governments, school councils and administrations. We take our responsibilities very seriously, and we did provide funding directly for input from CYFN into the Education Act review to the amount of $50,000 by the previous government and $50,000 by this government for direct involvement in the Education Act review within the partnership of the steering committee. And they had ample opportunity - two and a half years. That group of people worked hard and diligently, listening to all Yukoners with respect to education issues.
Question re: Tombstone Park, mining claims
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question today for the Premier.
On October 25 in this House, I raised the issue of access rights to the Canadian United Minerals claims that were included in the much-expanded boundaries of Tombstone Park. The Tombstone Territorial Park draft management plan is attempting to abridge the access rights guaranteed to owners of mining claims by the Yukon Quartz Mining Act and the Yukon Placer Mining Act. The Minister of Renewable Resources indicated outside this House that he couldn't care less about these mining claims, saying, "So what?"
Now that the Premier is in receipt of a letter from the Yukon Chamber of Mines stating concerns about the Tombstone Territorial Park draft management plan expanding the boundaries of the park on its west side, outside of the original study area, in order to abut a Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation land selection, and that this toe-like expansion cuts off access to the Marn claim gold deposit that has been known about since 1914, will the Premier address this serious access concern registered by the Yukon Chamber of Mines, or has she adopted the so-what attitude of the Minister of Renewable Resources?
Hon. Mr. Kent: Of course, on this side of the House, we would prefer that there be no mines in parks or no access roads through parks. However, we recognize that existing claim holders have the legal right to those claims and the Quartz Mining Act gives them the right to work those claims, and implicit in that right is the right to reasonable access.
Mr. Jenkins: Once again, to the Premier, I must admit how you've changed, Madam Premier.
The toe-like expansion of the western park boundary outside of the original study area is designed to abut the First Nation's block of land and obviously was done intentionally by the Tombstone steering committee to block the old access road up to Chandindu River, that provided access to this very mineral-rich area.
Will the Premier act on this urgent request by the Yukon Chamber of Mines and ensure that this long-established access route to the Marn claims and that very rich mineral-potential area is reserved? Will she do so?
Hon. Mr. Kent: As I mentioned in my previous answer, the Quartz Mining Act gives claim holders the right to work those claims and implicit in that right is the right to reasonable access to those claims.
The Liberal government would not stand in the way of an application for road access.
Mr. Jenkins: That's very interesting, given that the draft management plan precludes any roads going through the Tombstone area.
Now, on another related issue, reports out of the office of the Yukon minister of parks, who is currently the head of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in Yukon, indicated that three more goal 1 areas, or no-development parks, will be established in the territory by the time the Premier attends the Cordilleran Roundup in Vancouver.
Can the Premier confirm or deny that a secret backroom deal has been cut?
Speaker: Order please.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: The Member for Whitehorse Centre, on a point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: It clearly states in the Standing Orders that the questions are to be related to each other. If the question has anything to do with the Cordilleran Roundup or anything to do with mining discussions in Vancouver, they have little or nothing to do with Marn properties.
What I'm asking, Mr. Speaker - if we're going to have one question, the supplementary has to be related to the earlier question, and it isn't.
Speaker: Leader of the third party, on the point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: There's no point of order; there's just an inability by this Liberal government to answer a basic question.
Speaker: The hon. Premier, on the point of order.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Not on a point of order, Mr. Speaker - I will gladly respond to the member opposite.
Speaker: Thank you. I will turn the time back on.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, with respect to attendance at the Cordilleran Roundup, which is scheduled for January, there is also an annual premiers meeting scheduled for that time period. I anticipate attending.
As for what announcements might be made by either myself, the Minister of Economic Development, the Minister of Renewable Resources or any other member of the government who may or may not be attending, the member will just have to wait and see.
Question re: Mayo-Dawson transmission line, timber permit
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister has finally done his homework about what is happening on the Mayo-Dawson transmission line.
Yesterday, he committed to bringing back information about the burning of trees that were supposed to be saved under the timber permit issued on June 19. Will the minister now confirm that condition 2 of the permit has not been honoured, at least not until lately?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the clearing of the Mayo-Dawson City transmission line corridor, the following information has been obtained - you know, from the member responsible for Yukon Energy Corporation, for myself.
Yukon Energy Corporation's contractors are required to abide by the terms of all permits issued by the regulatory authorities and the terms of benefits agreement signed with the Nacho Nyak Dun and the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation.
DIAND is the agency responsible for issuing and enforcing timber and land use permits. A permit was issued with respect to the removal of timber along the transmission right-of-way.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, the minister didn't answer the question, and the minister doesn't seem to understand the seriousness of the situation. He says he doesn't get involved in the operation and maintenance of the corporation. This is about the corporation not living up to its legal obligation, and the buck stops at the minister's desk. What is the minister doing to make it up to First Nations involved for the lack of consultation and the waste of usable timber on their traditional lands?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: The contractor and subcontractors responsible for clearing the corridor for the transmission line are required to meet the terms of the forestry permit. It specifies the type and size of timber to be salvaged.
Regional management officers in Mayo and Dawson City provide the on-ground direction to the contractor and enforce the terms of the permit. Where appropriate, the RMO, as the regional management officers are called, provides on-spot instructions to the contractor. With the approval of the RMO, the contractor has not salvaged some of the otherwise eligible timber because it is impregnated with dust and rock, or is otherwise considered of little value for any purpose.
Apparently in the course of the clearing, one stop-work order has been issued to a contractor on a short section. That matter has been addressed and Yukon Energy advises that there has been some confusion amongst the various parties about the practical application of the timber size requirement, and what was actually happening in the field. A meeting of all the parties was held about 10 days ago, which clarified matters for all concerned. Yukon Energy is taking this matter very seriously.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister is lost in the forest here. He didn't even answer the question. Every time this minister stands on his feet, he makes a bad situation even worse by his arrogance. This is the same minister who said that consultation is the backbone of the Liberal Party, and there are concerns that the slashing and burning may even have gone through First Nation site specifics without proper consultation. Will the minister take the appropriate steps to ensure that the corporation does nothing further to abuse the relationship between this government and the First Nation governments?
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Again, the member opposite doesn't have all the facts. The member presents what the member believes are the facts.
Mr. Speaker, the corporation has consulted. It has consulted with all the parties, and all the parties have been involved in the process. If the member opposite doesn't believe that, that's the member's problem, not mine.
Finally, what I'd again like to point out, that this government has no involvement in the issuance of regulation of these permits. That's not our job; that's an operation and maintenance job. And the government is not involved in Yukon Energy's management of the project. I don't manage the project from my office - I know the members opposite would like me to do that, because understandably maybe that's what they did when they were government - its relationship with the contractors or subcontractors or the First Nations. At the same time, I know that Yukon Energy has been clear that the project and its contractor must comply with the requirements of all permits and the benefits agreement with the First Nations. And we are following all the rules, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Yukon hire policy
Mr. Keenan: Today I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. We know that the NDP established a Yukon hire commission, which eventually evolved into a Yukon hire policy. Can this minister tell us if Yukon hire is still a policy of the government?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, yes, I'd say that questions regarding hiring policies are the Public Service Commission's responsibility. But in this regard here, the government believes that tax dollars have been used to support our local economy and that, whenever possible, we spend the resources locally. Also, yes, we do have a government hire policy and it is still in effect with Government Services.
Mr. Keenan: Like many other things, Mr. Speaker, this government is very good at cover-up and has maybe hidden this policy who knows where. I have certainly searched for the policy on the Government Services Web site but couldn't find it. But I do think that, right now, we have to congratulate this Liberal government because the Yukon is now the slowest growing economy in the country, and that's pathetic - absolutely.
In the breakdown of community spending, which was provided with the recently tabled budget, a great deal of attention was paid to the business incentive plan but there is no attention paid to local hire - none at all.
So I'd like to ask again: why is this government only using incentives to make Yukoners get work on government projects when it could make certain that Yukoners get work by regulation and by policy? Can the minister explain that?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite seems to be painting a picture that we have no intentions of local hire. That's not true. This is not a reflection -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes, on a point of order.
Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I know that we're not supposed to refer to the words "truth" or "untruth" in this House. I have been cautioned. I accept that. I'd ask you to pass that on.
Hon. Mr. Jim: I can say that the member opposite is wrong but it has been said that many times -
Speaker: Order please. Is the member speaking on the point of order?
Hon. Mr. Jim: No. I was speaking in response to the question that was raised.
Speaker: I would ask the members that when they stand up they allow the Chair to recognize them.
I was taking that the member was speaking on the point of order.
For the time being here, I would like to rule on the point of order.
The Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes is correct; we have ruled many times in this House that referring to the truth or "misleading" or similar phrases is not acceptable.
With that, I rule that there was a point of order, but I will ask the member to continue to answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Once again, I would like to say that I'll try to make a point that the member opposite is wrong. We look at local hire as one of the primary reasons why we set up projects here in the Yukon, whether it be the highway projects, contracting projects. We look at people in the communities with high regard. Yukon government job opportunity ads continue to reflect that preference will be given to Yukon residents on all competitions for Yukon government jobs.
Mr. Keenan: Well, this is very confusing today. We are asking questions; we're not getting answers. We are getting smeared all over the place here.
I would like to ask the minister this: where is the minister hiding this information?
We're not here to be hiding. This minister campaigned on being open and accountable and being transparent. Well, I cannot find anywhere, in any of the commissions, where this has come about. Meanwhile, the Yukon is losing its skilled workforce. People are leaving to find work in Alberta and the territories, in British Columbia. The Liberals are slashing the training trust funds by 62 percent. This government has obviously abandoned the economy. That is exactly what's happening.
So I would like to ask this minister again: what steps is this minister taking to ensure that Yukoners can get work whenever government expenditures are made, and how is the minister doing that?
Hon. Mr. Jim: On May 9, 2001, Cabinet approved a revised definition of "Yukon resident" for the purpose of all hiring for Yukon government jobs. The three-month residency requirement for Yukon government jobs is now eliminated for people who physically moved to the Yukon, for Yukon students, or for a period of five years after graduation, and for the partners outside Canada to accept the position with Yukon governments. The business incentive program provides rebates for Yukon labour on government jobs. We continue to look at this government and look at these highway projects that we have as part of local hire. We are intent to hire people from the Yukon.
Question re: Fuel purchase policy
Mr. Keenan: Again, I have a question for the Minister of Government Services.
In July 2000, responsibility for the government's fuel purchase policy moved from Community and Transportation Services to the Department of Government Services, and at that time the minister claimed that the changes were made to save money. Can the minister confirm now, on the floor of the House, that the changes that his department made to the policy were intended to save the taxpayers' money?
Hon. Mr. Jim: When we changed the fuel policy back in July 2000, we negotiated rates with the oil companies and sought bids from the independent retailers interested in selling fuel to the government. The oil companies' discounts to the Government of Yukon are kept confidential, as are oil companies' discounts to other governments and other corporate customers.
Mr. Keenan: Well, again I've got to point out that this government campaigned on an election commitment of being open, accountable and transparent, and now what I see here is that they are creating an uneven playing field and its source is tilted toward the big oil companies.
Under the old policy, every retailer who bid on the contract did so in an open and accountable process. Everyone could see each other's bid price, and every bidder knew what the set price was. That is a fact.
With the new policy the department negotiates directly with the parent oil companies.
Now, I have a letter from this minister that I am going to table and, in this letter, he says, "For business reasons, the oil companies have requested their negotiated discounts be kept confidential. The Government of the Yukon respects their wishes." So why is this government protecting the big oil companies in such a way that Yukon people can't see for themselves what kind of a bang they are getting for their dollar? And that is their tax dollar?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, if we have distributors and companies that ask and wish that their discounts and negotiated prices be kept confidential, then we must respect that, in all fairness to the companies that request this confidentiality.
Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I've got to point out that there are a lot of people in rural Yukon and, indeed, within Whitehorse city limits who are small operators, who are mom-and-pop type of operators. Family businesses is exactly what they are. Now, under this new process, this minister has cut out all of those independent retailers. He has taken the paycheques, I guess, right away from the families as he does this. He has created a very uneven playing field - absolutely uneven. And of course, it favours the big oil companies.
So I would like to ask this: will this minister act in the best interests of Yukoners instead of the multinational oil companies, and will he go back to the previous policy?
Hon. Mr. Jim: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to say that in the last 12 months we've saved some $53,000, and all private retailers are included on the list.
The discounts are applied electronically to the government fuel purchase credit card account. This is an extremely efficient way of handling discounts, resulting in a savings to taxpayers through reduced government administration costs and faster payment to local businesses.
Question re: Whistle-blower legislation
Mr. Fentie: I have a question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. It's a well-known fact that this Liberal government campaigned based on their platform document, a commitment or a contract with the Yukon public, as they say, and let me quote one section:
"Government workers and contractors need to feel free to speak their minds. Pat Duncan and the Yukon Liberals will put people ahead of politics and government."
My question to the minister responsible for Public Service Commission: where is the whistle-blower legislation?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I thought this question would come up eventually - when they have difficulty making up questions on the opposite side.
Mr. Speaker, we are still looking at options for whistle-blowing legislation, and we are gathering sufficient information. As the member opposite may well know, the federal government has established guidelines for whistle-blower legislation, and we will be looking at that more intently as it might apply here in the territory.
Mr. Fentie: Well, I'd caution the minister not to wait on the federal Liberals. We're still waiting for that economic development agreement as we suffer through these terrible economic times.
Mr. Speaker, the government has undertaken the renewal of government - a very, very complicated process. Now, if they expect the public service to come forward and provide constructive and solid information on this matter, they need to ensure that the government employees have absolutely no fear of a witch hunt when they criticize a process. How can they do this without the legislation we call "whistle-blower legislation"?
This government committed to it on behalf of the employees of the government. Where is that legislation? We are now in the third legislative sitting under this government, and we have yet to see it.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, as the Member for Watson Lake bootlegged in a comment about renewal into his question, I would like to respond to that comment.
Mr. Speaker, no employee will have any negative consequence associated with their comments made regarding renewal - none. All comments were put as suggestions, and if the member bothered to read the information and the complete, detailed document that I provided to his leader last week, he would realize that all of the comments in the renewal of government from the public service are listed there without attribution.
Members of the public service - the hard-working, professional public service - have offered us detailed, extensive comments on renewal, and I provided a legislative return today giving members opposite the full extent of those comments. Members of the public service are absolutely free to speak to this government and offer their comments to us. And Mr. Speaker, we welcome them.
Mr. Fentie: A very noble defence of a misguided process. Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, Yukoners, including the public employees, are concerned about this government, because they have shown far too many times that they can't be trusted to do the right thing. This government committed to bringing forward whistle-blower legislation. It's not even on the legislative calendar, never mind here in the House ready for debate.
When is this government going to bring forward that legislation they committed to? They signed a contract with the Yukon public and they are breaking faith with the Yukon public in how they're handling this very situation.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, first of all, renewal is not, as the members opposite refer to it, "misguided". It is an absolutely necessary step in preparation for devolution. And might I remind the member opposite that the devolution transfer agreement has been signed and tabled, something this government has managed to achieve. We need to be ready for devolution. There are a number of reasons for major change, and change is difficult, but the only thing the member opposite - pardon me, the member opposite's comments about renewal are not the only misguided statements the member opposite made today. The member opposite is completely misguided. He doesn't know what the legislative calendar is of this government. That's something this government works on.
Maybe the member opposite should focus on the legislation at hand and be prepared and ready to debate it, as opposed to worrying about what we're bringing forward in the next several sessions of our mandate.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed and we will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Mr. Clerk: Motion No. 149, standing in the name of Mr. McLarnon.
Motion No. 149
Speaker: It is moved by the Member for Whitehorse Centre
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 the appropriate resources in the 2002-03 capital budget this fall to begin the necessary planning and design work for this school replacement project.
Mr. McLarnon: At this moment I do not wish to give the opposition an instruction on keeping their promises. I would prefer, at this point, to stand down this motion and seek unanimous consent of the House in order to be able to move on to further government business.
Unanimous consent re: standing down Motion No. 149
Speaker: The Member for Whitehorse Centre has requested unanimous consent that the House proceed no further today with Motion No. 149. Is there unanimous consent?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has not been granted. Motion No. 149 continues to be the business before the House.
The Member for Whitehorse Centre has the floor if he wishes to continue speaking to Motion No. 149.
028a Mr. McLachlan: And I guess at this point, one of the reasons I wanted to continue on with the business of the government is because right now all we're going to do is explain to the opposition why they're not going to win the next election. We're going to explain to them on the night of the next election, when they're crying, gnashing their teeth, pointing fingers at each other, why they lost that election and what was the reason. The reason why, Mr. Speaker, is that this government right here has kept promises. It is something the Yukon public isn't used to; they haven't seen it in previous governments. What we're seeing now and why I brought this motion forward is because we keep our promises. We do what we said we're going to do. The Grey Mountain Primary School is just one example of the promises we've kept in our platform. When we take a look at the Grey Mountain Primary School, it is a school that deserved attention. It had been given lip service by previous governments throughout the history of its life on the end of Lewes. It had been operating a high level of standard. Governments had promised to replace it, but no. It finally took the Liberal government to stand up and have the courage to replace it, keep its word on its promise, and for that I'm proud.
This is not an isolated incident, Mr. Speaker. When we talk about achieving devolution in our platform, again, that was a promise made by two other governments before us. Now, that would be possibly because we have better links to the federal government, because we can talk to governments better, because we understand and have respect for other governments and we've worked through that. I believe those have to be the reasons, since there was no other achievement by any other government that we can take full credit again for keeping our promises. This is another one that we have done. We have talked about making sure that even things in our society that are not noticeable to the public, that don't go get you immediate votes, are still done.
Let's take a look at our commitment to build a jail. Jails don't traditionally win political party votes, but we are doing it. Why? Because we are committed to keeping our word. We are committed to going back to the Yukon public at the next election and saying, "We did it". We know that they are not going to be used to hearing that. We know that they are not going to be, in any way, ready to hear that, but when they find out that they actually had a government that kept their promises and they find out that they actually had a government that did its work and did what it said it was going to do, that will guarantee us re-election.
So I just want to warn the members opposite that, right now, they are hearing the reason why they are going to lose the next one. Don't even bother worrying about it. It's not your fault. It is because this government did a good job.
Now, we would also like to point out a few of our other promises that we have kept. We promised that we would reinstate Cabinet tours to communities. We are doing that. We have been in communities. We have talked to the people in the communities. It has been a good experience for Yukon communities to get to know their Yukon government and also for the Yukon government to get to know the issues in each community. It is a building experience, one way that we are ensuring that rural Yukon has its voice and that its issues are raised on the very front of the minds of all the Yukoners in the territory.
We also promised to move the capital budget to the fall. Contractors asked for it for years. They couldn't understand why they would be scrambling in May for projects. Why couldn't we move it back?
What we see here are obvious difficulties in the House. We have seen filibustering already. We have seen attempts to slow down the process of the House. That is the risk that you run when you put two budgets on either side in each legislative session. We ran the risk in order to keep our word. That is the theme of this. This is the instruction and the explanation that I am giving to the opposition so that they can understand that how you get re-elected is by not always playing politics. It is -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. Leader of the official opposition, on a point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I believe that you have asked the Member for Whitehorse Centre to speak to the motion he has put forward, and we heard nothing about the content of the motion itself. I ask the member to keep focused.
Mr. McLarnon: Actually, I'm sorry that the member opposite doesn't know the rules of the House, but I have broken no rules. Relevancy is - I have unlimited time to explain my case, and if the member doesn't understand, he should understand that he lives in a very bad glass house.
Speaker: On the point of order, there is no point of order. There is merely a dispute of facts between the members. The Chair has listened to hours of debate in this House and, really, it's not until the end of the debate that we can determine whether the member is talking about the motion at hand. However, in previous rulings, I have allowed the debate to continue. It is not my desire to limit debate, and I'll ask the Member for Whitehorse Centre to please continue.
Mr. McLarnon: It's obvious, when you tell people how to keep a promise - especially the members from the other side - that this is something disturbing to them, and that it's new to their ears. And I can understand that. I can understand their sensitivity and wanting us to stop when we explain what we're doing right. They don't understand it because they haven't done it in a long time.
So, Mr. Speaker, any more disturbances I will take as a need for further clarification on how to keep your word to the Yukon public. I will be happy to explain that to the member from Tatchun any time he wants. If he wants a lesson outside of the House, I'll be happy to do it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please.
Point of order
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition, on a point of order.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, we hear constantly in this House the Premier and the Member for Whitehorse Centre not addressing people on this side of the House by their proper names or their ridings. And it's taking place again today, and I'd ask you to ask the Member for Whitehorse Centre to bone up and read exactly what the ridings are in this territory.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Speaker: Order please. The Member for Whitehorse Centre, on the point of order.
Mr. McLarnon: Mr. Speaker, if I didn't say Mayo-Tatchun, it is a problem. I will make sure that the leader of the official opposition is actually referred to as "leader of the official opposition". Why I will do that in the future is to ensure that there is no confusion.
Speaker: Thank you, but there is a point of order in the fact that we have ruled recently that members are to be addressed by their constituency or by the office they hold, and the correct constituency name would be Mayo-Tatchun or "the leader of the official opposition". I realize that the member has basically apologized for that, but there was a point of order.
However, would the Member for Whitehorse Centre please continue?
Mr. McLarnon: I'll explain it as "the leader of the official opposition" so that, in fact, everybody in the listening public can surely know that the leader whom I am speaking to through you, Mr. Speaker, can get the point and maybe explain it to the members of his caucus about what it means to keep one's word to the Yukon public on political promises, which we're doing right now.
We have other issues on which we can promise that we're keeping our promise - very difficult issues, for example, like restoring confidence in government. The renewal process is a huge, huge process, and it is intended to do that. It is a long-term process, Mr. Speaker. It is a commitment to keep our promises. Some of these promises do have political flack. The lack of understanding often from opposition that has not bothered to take any briefings or gather any information other than what they hear in the rumour mill on the street. So, they never understand how the promise is kept because they have never asked. We are explaining that to them now.
The Grey Mountain Primary School is an example of standing fast on a promise, standing in front of your voters and explaining to them that we have said it and we'll do it.
The important part for me, and why I brought this motion forward, is not only to recognize the value and need for this school, but also to recognize the fact that the Yukon Liberal government is keeping promises.
Other things that we've done through the election and through our platform, as an example, is restoring cuts to heritage - a sadly neglected branch and department of our Yukon government before we took office. In fact, it was cut almost as badly as the highways funding previously. During the election, we promised the Yukon Historical and Museums Association and the Yukon public at the forum, and our Premier stood there and said that we will restore those cuts to heritage; we will recognize the value of our heritage to our community and to our Yukon people, and ensure that it is protected.
We are restoring those cuts. This year alone we see $500,000 going into heritage trust funds. The cuts are coming back. Partnerships are being created. Heritage is now alive again as a result of keeping a promise - the exact expectations from the communities.
When we said that we were going to do a museums study, that was an expectation that we met.
I want to give my colleagues from Riverdale a chance to speak to the motion of why they support Grey Mountain Primary School. I believe that going on at that length to the opposition about how to keep a promise would probably be a waste of time since their ears are already closed. I will relinquish my speaking spot now in order to maybe get feedback from the opposition on how they intend to keep any promises they made.
Mr. Fairclough: I could see why this Liberal government wanted to take this motion off the table, off the floor of this House and to not debate it.
Here is a motion that normally gives direction to the House, and what does it do? They want to commend the Liberal Party. It's not a direction to take forward to government; it isn't.
To commend the Liberal Party for having courage - that's what this motion was all about.
I could see why this Liberal government would want to take it off the floor, because here they are, bringing a motion like this to the floor of this Legislature when a direction is already made and given in the budget, and they are soon to come forward with another motion to give the government the ability to shut down the House at any time they like. Is that respect? Is that being open and accountable to government? Is that keeping a promise to the public that the Liberal government had made? I think not. I think we can go through many, many examples of how this Liberal government has broken its promise. To the teachers was one of them, Mr. Speaker, and that was a sad day, to see a first-ever teacher strike in this territory.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I believe that this Liberal government made a decision without really looking into the background of building facilities in the communities, and it's unfortunate because there were many promises made out there that they're not bringing to the floor of this Legislature. Why? Some of them are that they failed to go back and talk to the people to whom they have made those promises, and that is unfortunate. And they did say, Mr. Speaker, that if they were elected that they would replace the Grey Mountain Primary School without even taking into consideration the present situation we are in at the moment.
There were other promises made, too, by this Liberal government. Soon we could see how they've turned and changed their minds, which is in their full right to do. We've heard how Whitehorse Elementary School was going to be no longer. We've heard how Takhini Elementary School was going to disappear.
And that's unfortunate, and I think it was just with that little movement that the government made that they found that the public was not in favour of what this Liberal government was doing.
So where did they get their information in the first place to do that? Even the Member for McIntyre-Takhini committed to the people in his riding that the Takhini Elementary School would not disappear. There were promises made that the heating system in that school would be done this year. I am hoping that this Liberal government commits and does not break that commitment because, in the supplementary, that amount of dollars designated for that heating system is gone. So, in this very short term - and even talking about schools - how can this Liberal government say that they have kept their promises? Even speaking to the Mayo school was in the budget and it was delayed and changes were made. And thank goodness for the community - the First Nation and the Village of Mayo - speaking up and making government meet with them face-to-face so they can hear the concerns of the communities. That is what is lacking right now.
And what we have before us is a Liberal government coming to the floor of this Legislature and asking us to commend the Liberals for their courage. I think it is so wrong for something as weak as this to come to the floor of the Legislature. We want get the business of the public done. This Liberal government has already committed dollars to Grey Mountain Primary School, and they want the rest of the House to clap for them and pat them on the back because they made that decision. With every decision they make as a government, is that what we are expected to do? Is it for them to come forward with a motion to the floor of this Legislature so we can pat them on the back? Well, I think that this government is going to realize that a lot of decisions have to be made by government. That is the job of government to do - to work with people.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I did bring forward a motion to the floor of this Legislature. This Liberal government, from day one, broke their promise in not bringing forward, in its entirety, the NDP budget, as they said they were going to do. Instead, they proceeded to cut out all they did not like about it. So that was a broken promise. And if they weren't doing those projects in a time of need in this territory, we asked that the Liberal government start spending some of their $56 million they had in surplus to go toward this.
Now, that was then - a year and a half ago, and things have changed since then. I'm hoping that this Liberal government could keep up with the times. There was a process in place. Now, what we see before us is a decrease in enrolment and some new direction coming out of government. I think that government, in wanting to be good fiscal managers and spending their money wisely should be looking at this and what a government can really do to make the school more efficient and what the capacity of the school in Whitehorse really is.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a friendly amendment to the motion that would give some direction to this Liberal government.
Mr. Fairclough: So, I move
THAT Motion No. 149 be amended in the final clause by deleting the wording after the phrase, "THAT this House" and substituting for it the words: "supports the Liberal government in allocating the appropriate resources in the 2002-03 capital budget to begin the necessary planning and design work for this school replacement project, provided" - and listen to this carefully - "that the elementary school enrolment in Whitehorse warrants it and that no other elementary schools are closed as a result."
Speaker: Order please. Will all members take their seats?
It has been moved by the hon. leader of the official opposition
THAT Motion No. 149 be amended in the final clause by deleting the wording after that phrase "THAT this House" and substituting for it the words: "supports the Yukon Liberal government in allocating the appropriate resources in the 2002-03 capital budget to begin the necessary planning and design work for this school replacement project, provided the elementary school enrolment in Whitehorse warrants it and no other elementary schools in Whitehorse are closed as a result."
Mr. Fairclough: I believe that this is a friendly amendment and that it gives some guidance to this Liberal government as to how to do things and also to take into consideration what's taking place here in the City of Whitehorse.
Mr. Speaker, I don't have a qualm with any government building schools. The NDP are committed to building one school every year, and I'm hoping that this Liberal government can do the same thing and follow the direction that's put out there by people who are closer to the situation, such as the chairs of school councils and so on.
Mr. Speaker, I urge and I hope all government on that side of the House support this amendment.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, on the amendment, the side opposite is quite interested in the amendment that the leader of the official opposition has brought forward. The leader of the official opposition is making the supposition in his amendment that there would be schools closed in Whitehorse as a result of building Grey Mountain Primary School. That's not the way this side of the House operates. We don't pit one school against another, as the previous government did. And let's remember, Mr. Speaker, that it was the previous government that started the Riverdale school capacity review, which was - and I'm quite certain of this - a veiled attempt to get rid of Grey Mountain Primary School. We support Grey Mountain School. We support the good work the teachers do. We support the wonderful learning environment that those children have somehow or another, despite the fact that they're 40-year-old portables that they're learning in, come up with some of the best test scores in Canada on the test of basic skills.
Mr. Speaker, we support Grey Mountain School. We're not saying that Grey Mountain School is going to close another school. That's impossible. As a government, it is our responsibility to educate the young people of the Yukon Territory, and we think that they deserve to have that education in good schools. The previous NDP government thought that that quality of education or that quality of building was only good for the kids in the rural schools. They thought that the new school in Mayo, the new school in Pelly, the new school in Watson Lake, the new school in Dawson City, the new school in Haines Junction were great for the rural kids. But in that time period, there were no schools rebuilt within Whitehorse.
That didn't happen. It's time to pay attention to reality. Some of the schools in Whitehorse are 40, 50 and 60 years old. We are paying attention to that issue. It's important to us that we maintain a good standard for all Yukon students, whether they are in rural Yukon or they are in Whitehorse.
This government finished rebuilding the Mayo school. Now, I've told this story many times to the leader of the official opposition. When my daughter and I were in Mayo for a swim meet two years ago, we walked down the road to the Mayo school - we were going to the pancake breakfast - we walked down and saw the old school in Mayo and my daughter pulled on my hand and said, "Mommy, that looks just like Grey Mountain School." Do you know why? Because it was exactly like Grey Mountain School - the same 40-year-old portables tied together to make a very unhealthy, as it turned out, learning environment for the children of Mayo.
This government has taken on the responsibility to rebuild that school and we are also taking on the responsibility to rebuild Grey Mountain School. We are not pitting one school against another - one group of Yukoners against another - in order to rebuild Grey Mountain School. What we are doing is the right thing.
Now, the previous Yukon Party government decided that the way they were going to get rid of Grey Mountain School was to change the catchment area, so they gradually moved in the catchment area so that fewer and fewer children were allowed to go to Grey Mountain Primary School. What the NDP did was the capacity study - the capacity study that they quickly changed from the Riverdale capacity study to the Whitehorse capacity study, which basically pitted one school against another.
The previous NDP government, after realizing that they had some commitment because they had actually got blueprints to build a K-6 school for Grey Mountain, decided, "Whoa, we don't want to do that; we want to rebuild some more rural schools, which is where our political support is. We don't want to look at Whitehorse."
So what they did was come up with a capacity review study that pitted Yukoners against each other, and in the worst way.
We stopped that process because it wasn't healthy. We are all on one team here. Everyone in the Legislature wants what is best for Yukoners. On some days it is hard to see. On some days it is really hard to see, but ultimately that is what our goal is.
It is important to us to rebuild Grey Mountain Primary School. We are going to do it. We are going to do it because it is the right thing, and we are not going to have unintended consequences. The people of Riverdale South and the people of Riverdale North deserve a good primary school for their children.
There is no doubt that the enrolment in Whitehorse schools is such that children in the Yukon and children in rural Yukon get a much better education. They get a much better education because there are fewer kids.
It is important that people in the Yukon do what is best for Yukon students. One of the things that Yukon students do is to go to school in hopefully a good work environment. We offer that to our employees here in the Yukon government. We don't offer that to the teachers and students of Grey Mountain Primary School.
The members opposite are trying to set it up so that we have one group of Yukoners pitting themselves against another, that the people of Riverdale South should feel badly that they are having their primary school rebuilt. They shouldn't feel badly about it; they should feel proud of that. They should feel proud that this school, despite numerous governments, has survived. We will not support a motion that pits one group of Yukoners against another.
Mr. Jenkins: On the amendment, Mr. Speaker, when one looks at the basic motion in the amendment that we have before this Assembly here today, one only has to wonder where this Liberal government is coming from with respect to the education of our youth. And let's prioritize the importance of what we deal with.
Of first and paramount importance is the education of our youth here in society. Now, let's put that at the top of the list, and let's determine the best way of accomplishing that. The best way of accomplishing that, according to the Liberals, is to pat themselves on the back for initiatives like replacing the school.
Now, history has a funny way of repeating itself. What we see is a campaign promise that may be kept. And yet, the Liberals campaigned on adopting the budget of the previous NDP government in total and bringing forward all of the initiatives contained therein.
There's the first promise that was broken, Mr. Speaker - they didn't do that. What they did was cherry-pick that first budget and determined what priorities were going to be set. So, from the outset, they made a promise, and that promise wasn't kept. We have only to look at the capital projects that were on the table in that first budget. And we look at the Mayo school that was postponed, delayed or cancelled for that period of time.
That could have instilled much-needed jobs in Yukon.
And that school, Mr. Speaker, was right on track as to the priority in which schools were going to be replaced according to the school councils. An assessment of all schools has been undertaken here in the Yukon, and all the school councils bought in to that replacement order. In fact, they agreed that there was a more urgent and pressing need to move one school ahead of another. The political masters of the day said fine, they will agree to that change, and the school in Ross River went ahead of the school in Mayo. And the school in Mayo was subsequently cancelled by this Liberal government after the footings were put in and covered over. And they cried poverty.
Here we have the Minister of Education crying poverty to the Yukon Teachers Association and to the people of Mayo, saying, "Our government doesn't have any money. We can't meet this obligation that you're presenting to us from the teachers. We can't meet this obligation for additional capital funding for the continuation of the Mayo school."
Well, as time progressed, Mr. Speaker, we subsequently learned of the amazing budget surplus that this Liberal government was left with, and it gives credence to the fact that they were very novice, very inexperienced, and only doing what was politically expedient for themselves.
As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, the number one priority of government should be the education of our youth. The first factor that one considers is where the youth are who require this education. That would subsequently determine where schools are to be built or rebuilt, Mr. Speaker. That kind of study is called a capacity study, and it looks at the age of the population for intake purposes, what's coming up through and will be in the primary grades, and that's the first exercise that any prudent government would undertake. And what do we see? We see a government that says, "Oh, no, we don't want to do that. We just want to go out and build a new school because we promised to do that." It's not a process of doing what is right for Yukon, Mr. Speaker, if you look at this Liberal government; it's a process of doing what is right to stay elected. That's not in the best interest of Yukoners. There's an obligation to the education system to provide adequate schools, good teachers, good programs, and all of the above in the highest possible standard.
Mr. Speaker, when we look at the motion and the amendment, we see the foolishness of this government tabling such a motion - basically just patting themselves on the back - we know it's in the budget.
We know it's going to be on the floor for debate here in the next few days. The whole purpose of motions is to provide government with direction, not for the government of the day to pat itself on the back for something they chose to accomplish, that they politically determined that they are going to accomplish, and it's known and in the budget - so much for the intent of motions.
Then we see the government House leader going on and on and on, before this Legislature even sits, about how the opposition is going to filibuster, going to delay the passage of the capital budget; and he has it on good advice. I don't know where his advice is coming from, but I would encourage the government House leader to seek other sources of advice because, for the life of me, I can't understand where he is obtaining this from.
What we see before us is a meaningless motion, given the context of which motions should be brought before this House and given the purpose and intent of motions.
I would urge the government to analyze what schools need replacing, and there are surely a lot of schools that need replacing. Once the priority has been set, stick with it and abide by it.
If we look at the number of new schools that have been constructed in the Whitehorse and Whitehorse peripheral areas in the past little while, they are significant and rightly so. There was a demonstrated need for these new educational facilities.
But if we look today at the current enrolment, the current declining population - not just of school-age individuals but the entire Yukon, and if we look at the current situation that the Yukon is in economically - the Yukon ranks last as far as economic progress in the last year. That takes a tremendous effort in destroying investor confidence by this government that leads us to the last-place position in Canada. It reminds me of the front cover of Maclean's magazine recently where the Prime Minister of Canada is leading the Canadian Armed Forces, and the caption is "Backwards march", and that spells it out very well for this government. This Liberal government is going backwards so fast that they think they have gone full circle and that they are the head of the pack. It is a sad day.
The emphasis this Yukon government places on various priorities here in the Yukon is not at all impressive. I would encourage this Liberal government - this novice Liberal government - to analyze where the intake is going to be with respect to students and to consult the study that was done previously on schools and what schools need to be replaced. That was agreed to by the school councils here in the Yukon, so stick with it. Stick with it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, that replacement program will surely show that Grey Mountain is on the horizon. But what we see is this Liberal government more concerned with doing what is right for their own support base, rather than what is right for Yukon. That leads me to conclude nothing but disappointment for this government.
I refer to the Minister of Education as the "Minister of Education for Riverdale", Mr. Speaker - and I know you're not comfortable with that. When you look at the responsibilities the Minister of Education has, it's not just for Riverdale; it's for the entire Yukon. I would urge the Minister of Education to consider the broad picture, consider all of the issues.
It was only a few short years ago, Mr. Speaker, because of the increasing school population, that a second school, or quite a large addition to the school in my riding, in the Klondike, in Dawson City, was looming on the horizon. It looked like it was going to become a reality. Unfortunately, we've seen a drop in our enrolment of almost 100 students from its peak just a few short years ago.
We've also seen a corresponding drop in our population as the rest of Yukon has, Mr. Speaker. That is due in large part to the uncertainty that this Liberal government is creating in the economy, because they go hand in hand. If you have a good economy, it attracts people. A large part of the workforce - the very capable workforce here in the Yukon - is having to go elsewhere to find employment these days. A great deal of our tradespeople have been scared away from the Yukon because of the erosion of their jobs here. That tremendously well-educated group of individuals is no longer here, Mr. Speaker. They could have been, but they're not.
Mr. Speaker, it's a sad day for Yukon when a motion has to come before this House, where they have to pat themselves on the back - pat themselves on the back and have the audacity to stand up and say, "We got elected because we promised to do this, this and this." But go through the list of promises that were made by this Liberal government. They were, by and large, very shallow, and they certainly have not been honoured. If they would honour their commitments according to the budget that they inherited and the priorities, the next school that would be replaced would be the Tantalus School in Carmacks. Once only has to go to that community and have a look at that school. The leaking roof and the facilities are nowhere near adequate.
Whitehorse has the opportunity to move some of the students around between various facilities, given the close proximity of the schools in the Whitehorse area. Rural Yukon does not have that opportunity.
All communities in rural Yukon, with the exception of Watson Lake, have one school and one school only. That school usually functions as much more than just a school. It functions as a community centre, as a meeting centre, and it plays a significant role in not only the education of our youth, but in the whole social structure of the community, as indeed some of the schools in Whitehorse do.
But it must be pointed out that these facilities are the only facilities, and it was through the broad-minded thinking of individuals in the government of the day that these facilities in rural Yukon were expanded beyond just their ability to provide classrooms in which to educate our youth, but could be used for sports, recreation, meetings - a whole series that enhance and improve our social structure and our lifestyles, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Order please. The member has slightly less than two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I would urge all members in the Liberal government to give careful consideration before they table such a foolish motion again, patting themselves on the back, to not waste the time of this Legislature.
I do support the amendment to the motion and would encourage the Liberal caucus to give careful consideration to where they're taking Yukon.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Ms. Duncan: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Jim: Disagree.
Hon. Mrs. Edelman: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Roberts: Disagree.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Disagree.
Hon. Mr. Kent: Disagree.
Mr. McLachlan: Disagree.
Ms. Tucker: Disagree.
Mr. McLarnon: Disagree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Mr. Keenan: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are six yea, 10 nay.
Speaker: The nays have it. I declare the amendment is negatived.
Amendment to Motion No. 149 negatived
Speaker: Is there any further debate on the main motion?
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: It really is a pleasure to speak on the original motion. Keeping promises - why? Our society is based on trust and, quite frankly, the trust factor relative to what politicians do and say is continually going down. Well, we on this side of the House are trying to follow through on promises and commitments.
So, when the Member for Klondike calls me the Minister of Education for Riverdale, that is true. When he calls me the Minister of Education for Yukon, that is true. I am also the Minister of Education for Mayo-Tatchun, Watson Lake and all the other communities - both rural and urban - in the whole of the territory, and I take that responsibility very seriously.
I've learned a lot about education in 18 months. As the Minister of Renewable Resources, I have a good understanding because of my professional background before entering politics on what wildlife and environmental issues are.
Education has been an incredibly steep learning curve for me. The Member for Watson Lake continually, with a smirk on his face, calls us a "novice" Liberal government. I don't believe that we're novice any more. We've had to learn a lot, all of us on this side of the House. Have we made mistakes? Yes. And we stood up in the House and acknowledged that.
So I do believe, Mr. Speaker, that when we talk about keeping promises, that means something to the individuals on this side of the House.
As the MLA for Riverdale North, I will say that it's a great constituency with great people from all walks of life, all professions. I have a really close and very broad cross-section of individuals, from mechanics to teachers to nurses to doctors to every walk of life, Mr. Speaker. I enjoy very much talking to them. One thing that I did learn when I was running for this office was that there was "a little school that could" that continually kept coming up, especially with those residents in both my riding and the neighbouring riding of my colleague, the MLA for Riverdale South, whose parents also use "the little school that could."
Well, Mr. Speaker, successive governments have promised to replace the school. I believe in my heart - I do - that these promises were not simply political commitments - initially. But when you get within the confines of this House, every once in a while, we lose that perspective, and the public knows full well what happens in this House. They watch Question Period, that little glimpse at the early part of the session day, and they watch the carrying on in this House. And unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I think, for the most part, we all, in this House, try to conduct ourselves in a responsible, respectful fashion - most of us, I say, Mr. Speaker, try to do that.
There are some members in this House who go out of their way to make life in here pretty difficult, and I believe that is deliberate, Mr. Speaker. But we'll continue to try and - who knows? - as a favourite saying in this House goes, "at the end of the day" the electorate will decide that final poll in a couple of years. But one thing the members on this side of the House will be able to say is that "promise" means something - that we will do what we said we would do.
The Member for Klondike doesn't really relate to that. I think, for the Member for Klondike, the word "promise" is analogous to - oh, I'd better not go there, Mr. Speaker. That would be unparliamentary.
It is difficult. We do listen to the aspersions cast both ways in this House. I think that sensitivities sometimes get a little raw. That's unfortunate.
The promise that we would do what we said we would do - that is why, yes, it was a promise, but it was also my belief and that of the Member for Riverdale South that this school does need to be replaced.
They are 38-year-old trailers - trailers, Mr. Speaker. The usual life of these trailers is somewhere around 20 years, maximum. They are not made on the same standards as a house or another building.
The Member for Mayo-Tatchun knows that full well because he had that type of school in his community. It's now being replaced.
Why, then, should it be any less for a group of students in a similar condition as to what the students of Mayo were in - and are still in for a short while longer? Why should they have anything less?
I mentioned earlier that the sincere promises by previous governments were not political, and these promises were made for good reason because, at the time, they fully understood the conditions that the students in the Grey Mountain School have to learn in.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Klondike can't relate. He hasn't been there. The Premier speaks passionately. The Member for Riverdale South speaks passionately about the quality of education that these students get despite their environment, and that is true. Proof positive is the results that the grade 3 classes get in their math and reading tests. Compared to all other students in the country, they rank right up there.
The members opposite also suggest that we don't listen. Well, that's not quite true, again. I do listen to the long orations from the members opposite, and again, Mr. Speaker, because I so believe that we're doing the right thing with the Grey Mountain School, I'm not going to poke fingers back at the members opposite for the criticisms they level on this side with respect to moving forward on this issue.
I do listen to what the members have to say. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I will quote from a motion put forward in June 2000 by the leader of the official opposition, "That this House urges the Yukon Liberal government to live up to its commitment by putting appropriate resources to begin the necessary planning and design work for this school replacement project." Well, I heard that and we're moving forward with it.
Mr. Speaker, we always hope that we're doing the right thing in this House, morally and ethically. We always examine what we're doing in this House.
Now, I know that it's hard for the members opposite. In opposition and in the third party in the House they have a lot of difficulty acknowledging when things are done right on this side of the House. That's unfortunate, because I think we could certainly get a whole lot more done in a cooperative spirit.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I do get things done with some of the members opposite. They approach me; we sit down; we talk; we resolve issues that they bring forward from their communities.
I have no problem at all with those members going back and saying, "Look, I approached the government on your behalf and I got this done for you." I think it's great. Those members benefit, and there are members on the other side of the House who do that, Mr. Speaker. Those are the good times; those are the good times, when we get things done.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce for the benefit of the members two very distinguished visitors present with us in the gallery today: Mr. Ron Thompson, the Assistant Auditor General for the government, and Mr. Roger Simpson, a principal from the auditor's office from the Edmonton region. Please welcome them to the gallery.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: So, Mr. Speaker, yes, as the Member for Klondike often says in this House, this is a very contentious issue and we are moving forward with it.
I know that we have been chastised for some of the actions that we've taken on the Mayo school, and we are trying to be fiscally responsible. And there was a delay in the construction of the school, but over the summer we've had 63 people working on that school at any given time.
That has kept people working through the better part of the whole of this year, and very hopefully and very soon we will be moving forward and opening that school. And I would hope that all members of the House would join, because of the struggles that we have experienced here back and forth, and that we'd all go up and join in with the Mayo community and celebrate the opening of their school - all of us, without political prejudice. That would be a wonderful thing.
And, then when the Grey Mountain Primary School is built and replaced, we could do the same thing there because it is for children. That is why we are doing this. It is for children. Some of us sometimes forget that.
Education is one of the oldest ways of making communities strong.
There is another profession that is sometimes alluded to as being the oldest, but I think that education and learning is even older than that.
Keeping your community strong is necessary for generations of the future. To condemn the building of a school is like condemning the child who goes to that school. So we are doing the right thing. I know that the members opposite know that as well. I mean, I see nods of approval over there, really. So we are doing the right thing.
And I do appreciate the humour from the members opposite sometimes. I really do.
So yes, Mr. Speaker, we are replacing the Grey Mountain Primary School. It is for the children, and then we will all benefit from that in the years to come.
Yes, there are issues in other schools in the territory that I am very aware of: Tantalus School, the school in Pelly, the school in Watson Lake, the school in Takhini, the school at Golden Horn. All of our schools need care and attention, because that is the environment for learning and we must have a positive, healthy, clean environment so that we, as a responsible government, can provide the best quality education that we can.
So that's where we are going with this. I am proud of the fact that we are moving forward with this commitment, and it's more than a promise. That's the bottom line: it's more than a promise.
I know that in the hearts of the members opposite, they know it's the right thing to do, although they would never admit it.
So, on behalf of the members on this side of the House, we are in full support of the motion as written.
Motion to adjourn debate
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: I move that debate be now adjourned.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Education that debate be now adjourned.
Motion to adjourn debate on Motion No. 149 agreed to
Mr. Clerk: Motion No. 155, standing in the name of the hon. Ms. Buckway.
Motion No. 155
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Minister of Justice
THAT the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly be amended effective the next sitting day after this motion is adopted, by adding the following new Standing Orders:
Agreement to allot time
73(1) When the government House leader or designate states that there is an agreement among the House leaders, or their designates, to allot a specified number of sitting days or hours to the proceedings at one or more stages of any government bill, the government House leader or designate may propose a motion, without notice, setting forth the terms of such agreed allocation; and every such motion shall be decided forthwith, without debate or amendment. Such motion may be moved at any time, either with the Speaker in the Chair, or while the Assembly is in Committee of the Whole.
Qualified agreement to allot time
(2)(a) When the government House leader or designate, at the time the Assembly proceeds to government designated business, states that a majority of the House leaders or their designates have come to an agreement with respect of a proposed allotment of sitting days or hours for the proceedings at the stage at which a government bill is then under consideration, the government House leader or designate may propose a motion, without notice, setting forth the terms of the proposed allocation. The motion shall not be subject to debate or amendment, and the Speaker shall put the question on the said motion forthwith.
(b) If a motion pursuant to this section regarding any government bill is moved and carried at the beginning of government designated business on any sitting day and if the order for the said bill is then called and debated for the remainder of the sitting day, the length of that debate shall be deemed to be one sitting day for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this section.
Procedure in other cases to allot time
(3)(a) When an agreement cannot be reached under the provisions of sections (1) or (2) of this Standing Order in respect of proceedings at the stage at which a government bill is then under consideration, either with the Speaker in the Chair or in Committee of the Whole, the government House leader or designate may propose, at the time that the Assembly proceeds to government designated business, a motion for the purpose of allotting a specified number of sitting days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at that stage; provided that the time allotted for any stage is not to be less than one sitting day. The motion shall not be subject to debate or amendment and the Speaker shall put the question on the said motion forthwith.
(b) Such motion may not be proposed until the government House leader or designate has informed the Assembly, on a previous sitting day, either with the Speaker in the Chair or while the Assembly is in Committee of the Whole, that:
(i) an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of sections (1) or (2) of this Standing Order in respect of proceedings at the stage at which a government bill was then under consideration, and
(ii) a motion is to be moved pursuant to this Standing Order on a future sitting day.
Hon. Ms. Buckway: Mr. Speaker, it should be pointed out that this government takes no pleasure whatsoever in bringing this motion forward; however, it is the government's responsibility to govern, and that is exactly what this government intends to do.
During the past election, the Yukon Liberals committed to raising the level of debate in this Legislature. However, we are only one-third of the equation that can make that possible. The opposition parties also have an equal role to play in raising the level of debate.
We will not, or rather cannot, allow political gamesmanship to overshadow or circumvent the government's ability to conduct the public's business in a timely and efficient manner.
Mr. Speaker, there are numerous examples of wasted time in this House. However, one only needs to look back to the first day of this session as a prime example of what's wrong with members' conduct in this Legislature.
Mr. Speaker, as irritating as it is, there is no rule preventing members from endlessly repeating questions that have already been answered. It's just irresponsible of members to waste valuable debate time and taxpayers' money in this manner. Mr. Speaker, releasing embargoed figures in this House before the government of the day has had the opportunity to do so and breaking the long-standing and respected traditions of this House for nothing more than a little media attention speaks volumes about the conduct of some members of this Assembly.
Mr. Speaker, these types of antics are certainly not conducive to a healthy and productive working environment and do nothing to move the public's business forward. The sheer volume of time that we have spent debating non-substantive issues is not only completely ridiculous; it's embarrassing and, quite frankly, reflects poorly on each and every member of this House. Mr. Speaker, questions like "What colour is the bus that's going to Old Crow?" and asking the Premier about rebuilding generators at a highway camp are only two examples.
Mr. Speaker, from day one of this government's mandate, we took the position that it is improper and disrespectful to negotiate land claims on the floor of the House. Yet how much time have members wasted asking questions about those ongoing negotiations? Mr. Speaker, how many hours and taxpayers' dollars were wasted endlessly discussing road weight restrictions in this House? And let's not forget the great larvicide debate of a few years ago, Mr. Speaker. During that mind-numbing exercise, the House had to endure questions like "What kind of larvicide was used?" and "How many bags of larvicide were used?", and my personal favourite, Mr. Speaker, was "What kind of airplane was being flown when the larvicide was being dropped?"
These are just a few examples of the non-productive, meaningless, repetitive technical trivia that members routinely find themselves immersed in. Unfortunately, it's a long-established tradition that we spend hour after hour allowing a member of this House to hold up substantive, clear debate on any given topic or issue, asking such questions as, "How many lug nuts are on a grader blade in Old Crow", or speaking repeatedly about legislation that is not before the House rather than the legislation that is.
While these types of questions have certainly taken up days of valuable time in the Legislature and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, they have done little, if anything, to move forward the public's business. In fact, one could very effectively argue that the calibre of these questions have only served to stall debate in this House.
The members of this House spent almost 90 days in this Legislature in the first year of our mandate. That is far more than any other government in the history of government in the Yukon.
In contrast, the NDP sat for a total of 60 days in 1985 and the Yukon Party sat for a total of 50 days in 1992, in the first year of their respective mandates.
I am sure that the members opposite will take the first opportunity available to recite their usual mantra that, "The government refuses to answer our questions and that is the reason for wasted time in this House."
Members on this side of the House do answer the questions that are asked. We continue to answers those questions day after day in spite of the fact that they are shamelessly lacking in substance.
A more recent example of members carelessly wasting time in this House is the comments made last Wednesday by the Member for Watson Lake. The member went on for an hour and 40 minutes on every issue under the sun. This is especially ironic, given what the motion that he was speaking to actually dealt with.
This motion is about moving forward the business of the Yukon public. Being accountable is not something that applies only to the government of the day. It applies equally to all members of this Legislature.
During the election campaign, the Yukon Liberal Party promised Yukoners that, if elected, we would restore confidence in government. This motion is just one more step toward achieving that commitment. By way of comparison to our own House, the Legislature of Prince Edward Island has sat for an average of 26 days per sitting twice a year since the spring of 1997. If a jurisdiction that represents more than four times our population and has an annual budget that is almost double that of our own can manage to conduct the public's business in an average of 26 days per sitting, does it not stand to reason that the Yukon Legislature should be able to do the same in 25 days? The answer to that question is, simply, yes. There is absolutely no logical reason that the public's business cannot be concluded within a 25-day sitting. The previous MOUs that this government had signed in good faith with the members opposite have proven to be not worth the paper that they were written on. As I mentioned earlier, this government takes no pleasure whatsoever in bringing this motion forward. However, the actions of the members in this House since our government took office speak much louder than words and dictate what actions that we as government must take.
Mr. Fentie: Well, first let me begin by saying that I take exception to the minister's attempt at rationalizing what this really is. It's bringing closure to the Legislative Assembly of this territory, something that has never been in place here and for obvious reasons. It is not needed. It simply is not needed.
Now, the points that the member was trying to make with regard to why this draconian measure is to be taken by the Liberal government opposite simply do not make their case. There is absolutely no way that the opposition side will accept what the members opposite are saying with regard to this attempt, as they put it, to improve decorum in this Legislative Assembly and indeed to restore confidence in government.
The members opposite, the government side, bear the full responsibility of confidence in government. It's the opposition's duty in this Legislative Assembly to scrutinize the government on what it's doing, to scrutinize the government on its policies, its expenditures, and the laws that it's bringing forward, to ensure that we can make every effort to deal with the impacts that the government of the day's policies and decisions will have on the Yukon public.
This is simply an attempt - and I want to put it clearly to this Assembly and to the public and for the record - by the Liberal government to hide from public scrutiny. There has never been a need in this Assembly, Mr. Speaker, to invoke closure. In fact, if we go back in time and take a look at where our governments were some six to eight years ago when an agreement was reached and an addendum was signed and attached to the Standing Orders of this Assembly, the government of the day, the Yukon Party, the official opposition of the day, the New Democrats, and indeed the third party, a Liberal, signed in good faith an agreement that laid out the time allocation for this Assembly. It states very clearly that, because the budget sitting - normally held in the spring - is one that requires a great deal of discussion and debate because it is obviously the road map of the government side in dealing with the economy of the territory, in dealing with the social programs of the territory, in dealing with health care and education, those expenditures require the appropriate amount of scrutiny and debate.
So the spring sitting was laid out - by agreement among all three parties in this Assembly, which included the Liberals - 35 days. In addition, Mr. Speaker, the fall sitting, which was deemed a legislative sitting, was to be for a period of 25 days.
Now, the members, in those times, did it in a manner so that they did not have to change the Standing Orders because all three parties agreed that the draconian measures of closure are simply something we do not need in this territory or in this Legislative Assembly. So, they put it as an addendum. And the opposition, since the Liberal government has taken over, has made every effort to stick to those timelines. It's not the opposition's responsibility to bring forth the agenda with which this Assembly works; it's the responsibility of the government side.
Much of the delay that takes place in debate is attributed to the government side. They cannot simply stand here and say, "That bad opposition. They keep asking the same questions; therefore, we must do something in terms of improving the operations of this Assembly." Frankly, Mr. Speaker, the opposition, at times, needs to keep asking the same question because it's all about the members on the government side being held accountable.
Just because the members think they have given an answer, and that's appropriate, that's not how our democratic system works. There is a requirement here that the government side provide an open and accountable process, which amounts, in our estimation, to full disclosure on what it is they're doing.
Now, I can spend a lot of time today here listing out the litany of examples of why this government should not be allowed this particular measure and why, with good reason, they should not be allowed this measure.
Let's point out, first off, our democratic system. It's important that the opposition has the ability to deal with the issues, to deal with the business of the House in a manner that results in us, the opposition, representing the public. If the government side is not willing to participate in that debate, we then have a situation that requires the opposition to work even harder, and that may mean asking the same question more than once.
I think it's a well-known fact - and we'll all agree - that when a totalitarian government takes over, the first measure is an attack on the media and ensuring that the media is shut out. The second thing is getting rid of the opposition and/or getting rid of the opposition's ability to hold the government accountable. This measure is all about getting rid of the opposition's ability to hold the government accountable.
Now, I would have hoped that the members opposite would be open and accountable when they made this presentation on the history of this particular proposal that the government side has brought forward.
It was in a committee where it should be - the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges - and that's where it should be dealt with, where a consensus can be reached on how we collectively in this Assembly can improve the proceedings of our Legislative Assembly, can improve the decorum in this House, and what happened? Subsequent to the opposition, again, committing in the committee to adhere to the 25-day time allocation for this fall sitting, even though the Liberal government has now added a capital budget to the sitting, the members opposite refused - refused to agree with what already were our rules that guide us in time allocation.
Further to that, they removed, from any discussion whatsoever, these measures. In other words, they did not even allow the opposition the courtesy of discussing these matters in the standing committee where they should have been dealt with. How can the government side just arbitrarily say that this is the only way when the discussion at the committee level may have resulted in improving our Standing Orders? There are many examples already of how that has taken place - ministerial statements, the removal of anticipation. Members can be called to order for certain words that are used in this House or the context they're used in.
We've made improvements to our Standing Orders through consensus. This is a heavy-handed approach by using a majority on the government side to ram something through this House so that the government side can escape public scrutiny.
Mr. Speaker, the official opposition is not going to stand for it. We will not just allow this measure to take place without making a stand.
That stand, Mr. Speaker, is important, because we believe that, in our democratic process, governments must be open and accountable, must not have the ability to hide from public scrutiny. This government has not, in 18 months of its mandate, provided any evidence or indication that it has the capacity to use such a measure in a fair, open and accountable manner - in fact, quite the opposite. It has shown time and time again that it has a propensity to bring incorrect information to the floor of this House, forcing the opposition to ferret out the facts by other means.
Now, in a lot of cases, those other means are through our media, and what has that resulted in? When the media presents the facts to the public, the Liberal government, the members opposite, attack the media. We have had the Minister of Health stand on his feet in this House and basically accuse the media of printing nothing more than conjecture and fabrication. That's ridiculous. We all know what the media must adhere to when they put printed word to paper. That accusation is a sign that this government does not understand what this measure that they have brought forward really is.
Let's look at what they have tried to provide to the media, I assume as the reasons for this. As the Minister of Justice pointed out, the primary objective of this motion, which would result in a change to the Standing Orders, yadda, yadda, yadda, is to encourage House leaders to negotiate a reasonable amount of time for debate on each piece of legislation. Well, why isn't that happening at House leaders' meetings? Furthermore, why isn't it first dealt with in the committee that is struck and has the duty to deal with these issues?
The members opposite accuse this side of wasting time in this Legislature. One of their arguments for bringing closure in: wasting time in this Legislature.
Well, let's just go to recent history - earlier this afternoon. The Member for Whitehorse Centre tabled a motion in this Assembly that was nothing more than back-patting by the Liberals. And a quality of leadership is a degree of humility.
We have no problems if the Liberals live up to a commitment, but there are some codicils around those commitments that must be addressed. When we speak about the motion that the Member for Whitehorse Centre brought forward, that is a clear example of wasting time. Because all they had to do -
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. Government House leader, on a point of order.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I wish to correct the record. A motion was made to stand down the motion by the Member for Whitehorse Centre. The members opposite had a perfect opportunity to stand that down. They refused to give the consent. Having said that, the Member for Watson Lake cannot then rail against something that he voted against discussing further.
Speaker: The Speaker can rule on that right away if the member wishes. However, clearly it has been ruled in this House before that to correct a record is not a point of order; it is simply a dispute between members. And I ask the official opposition House leader to continue.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was saying, that is a clear example of wasting time in this Legislative Assembly, because if the members opposite were truly interested in getting unanimous support for that motion, there are certain steps that would have taken place before we even convened this afternoon. The first thing - and this is what my point about House leaders negotiating - that would have happened - and this is a standard procedure with House leaders - is that the government House leader would have come to House leaders this morning with a request.
Would you, the official opposition and the leader of the third party, entertain a unanimous consent regarding the motion that the Member for Whitehorse Centre has tabled? That discussion never took place. But, Mr. Speaker, the opposition side, in the past, has done exactly that at House leaders' meetings, and on motions brought forward by the opposition side, we have unanimously agreed to those motions. That would give us a clear indication that the members opposite were truly not wasting time, but were very interested in dealing with the body or content of the motion.
But the opposition did not even get a chance to discuss that at the House leaders' meeting - there was no negotiation. Instead, we had to come to the Assembly and debate that motion. The problem the opposition side had with the motion is not the commitment to build Grey Mountain School; it's the statements that are of such partisan nature that the opposition must stand and hold the government accountable for not realizing that one of the qualities of leadership is showing a little humility.
So we made a friendly amendment, urging the government to continue on with those good expenditures, but not at the expense of other schools or school closures. We merely made an attempt to take the Member for Whitehorse Centre's motion, who I'm sure had good intentions. However, they closed the motion off with something that destroyed those good intentions. We merely made an attempt to strengthen that motion and to help the Member for Whitehorse Centre improve upon his motion.
Well, it didn't take long for the members opposite to just simply erase that attempt and then adjourn debate on their very own motion, which proves to me that they are very, very keen on bringing closure to this Legislative Assembly.
Now, when it comes to closure, I think this Assembly should take some serious looks at the rest of the country. In this country, the only Assemblies that have closure is Alberta - first, let me point out in Alberta, Where is the opposition? There isn't one. There is no opposition and the Government of Alberta - I mean, people can shake their heads at this - but when one or two members face the multitude of the government side, that is not an opposition. It's virtually impossible for the opposition to be able to deal with the business of the House is a manner that can truly hold their government accountable. And in Alberta, they have the heavy-handed measure of shutting down debate; however, that is one of the only places that it has ever been used, and not very often.
Another place that has closure is Ontario. I don't need to go into a great length of explanation on how the Legislative Assembly in Ontario operates. But, again - seldom.
The House of Commons. I think that we can all agree that debate in the House of Commons does get extended on many, many occasions, and, again, they do not use this mechanism.
The Senate - well, I think that the position of the official opposition on the Senate is quite clear. Whether they have closure or not is irrelevant. We don't need a Senate; we shouldn't have a Senate, and our position again, for the record, is that the Senate should be abolished through attrition. We stand by that.
Really, what the Senate is, is an area for patronage appointments by the government of the day, and that's the long and the short of it, and at great expense to the Canadian taxpayer, with little product.
So, Mr. Speaker, there has to be some sort of case made by the members opposite to invoke such serious changes to the Standing Orders of this Legislative Assembly. Let's look at the examples now of why this government has not proven that it is capable of managing such a measure. When we, over and over, expose the fact that, when questioned, the government side is providing incorrect information to this House, what's to stop the government side - if they don't like an issue that the opposition is working on and digging on and trying to hold the government accountable on behalf of the Yukon public - from invoking this measure? We cannot allow this to happen. The government side is not perfect. The government side should be more aware of what the real commitments are to the Yukon public.
Now, can you, for a minute, Mr. Speaker, think about his decorum issue? Can anyone from among the members opposite truly stand in this House and say that they have, through their efforts, improved any decorum in this Assembly? Not one, Mr. Speaker. There is not one who can say that. And that's an example that's truly disturbing, because this is the government - the members opposite - that committed to do so. They had a contract with the Yukon public. They call it a contract with the Yukon public. They haven't lived up to that contract.
That's very disturbing. How can the members say they are bent on improving decorum in this House when they don't act in a manner that would lead one to believe that that is truly their goal? I think it's evident that their goal is to ensure that they can escape public scrutiny. They don't want to be here.
We are paid, as politicians, to come to this Assembly, to do our work, to spend our time here, and if we're not going to do that in the appropriate manner, why are any of us here? Why are we going through this? Our job is to be here. And since the first day of this Assembly, the arguments began that the government side doesn't answer questions and that the opposition side is asking repetitive questions, questions that have no meaning, questions that aren't involved in the debate, and so on and so forth. That has been with us since the beginning. However, it certainly is not a reason to bring in a closure motion or changes to our Standing Orders that would result in closure.
So, let's go on.
Commitments are very important here because, if the opposition side were to just agree with the government side, there must be some examples that would at least assure the opposition that the government side will allow the appropriate debate to take place.
One of the commitments that this government has made is to model professional behaviour in the Legislature. Let's look at some examples around that commitment. The Minister of Justice pointed out that I, the Member for Watson Lake, wasted a great deal of time last Wednesday debating a motion.
Well, I disagree with that, Mr. Speaker, because that motion was about commitment. That motion was about honouring agreements. That motion was about the opposition clearly stating to the public that it was ready, willing and able to conduct the public's business in 25 days. The government side, however, was not. And we have provided the facts that will substantiate that claim.
However, during the course of that debate, when it comes to modelling professional behaviour in this Legislature, I, the Member for Watson Lake, was, first off, accused of being a circus clown. Does that model professional behaviour? That came from the government side.
Secondly, I was accused of auditioning for the comedy channel. Does that model professional behaviour? Again, another example - another member stood on his feet and called me, the Member for Watson Lake, the "Hyland hyena". How can we even remotely feel comfortable that the members opposite will do what they say, when their commitment to model professional behaviour in this Legislature is nothing but rubbish, given their own actions? These are very disturbing signs, and more disturbing when you consider what it is that they're attempting to do here in changing our Standing Orders.
The Standing Orders in this House are the guide by which we operate, and they work. They're not broken; why are we messing with them? Again, I come back to one conclusion: this government's total fear of being accountable to the public. Now, there are some examples of why that fear is there.
Far too many of their commitments in their platform, their contract with the Yukon public, have already been broken in 18 short months. But more than that, they have a propensity for backroom deals.
The first one, an obvious one, was with the teachers - the so-called million-dollar signing bonus. Well, that blew up on the members immediately. And what happened? The Yukon Territory suffered through the first-ever teachers' strike. The only people who paid in that strike were the students. The government side, in trying to make a backroom deal, wound up in a terrible mess. They mismanaged the issue; they tried to work outside of the collective bargaining process, which is another very disturbing sign of the ability of the members opposite to lead and adhere to commitments that they make.
Another example is a recent one. The third party brought up a very important question today. We have, in this territory, what's called the Yukon protected areas strategy. It's a very public process, and it's a public process to ensure that there is public buy-in on what we're doing when it comes to parks and protected areas. And yet we hear that this government side is negotiating again in the backrooms and is about to announce three goal 1 areas in this territory with absolutely no public consultation on where those areas are, on how large those areas are, why they're doing it - nothing. It's another backroom deal, which is very disturbing because if we allow this government to invoke closure, it's evident that they will use it in a manner that suits them and to ensure that they don't have to be in this House, that they do not have to be held accountable, that they can just go off and continue working as a government in the backrooms.
I find that very disturbing. This motion that the government side has brought forward is similar to an attempt they made in the last sitting. And in the last sitting, they simply did not make their case again on closure. Why are the members so afraid of sitting in this Assembly for 25 short days? There is a certain amount of work to be done here on behalf of the public. We not only have a supplementary budget that takes the largest budget in the history of this territory - $535 million - and increases it by $54 million. And yet the government side wants the right and the ability to stop debate on that budget - that $54-million increase to what was already the biggest budget in the Yukon's history. They want the ability to shut debate down on that at their leisure, when they think it is time to shut debate down.
Now, if you look at this motion, it says that the government House leader has the authority and ability, by his discretion, to decide when there has been enough debate. That is not acceptable, not only to this House but to the public.
Now, the members make much about improving and restoring confidence in government, but I challenge the members to prove to the opposition where the public's outcry for closure was. Where was the hue and cry out of the Yukon public that they demand that their government have the right to close debate? Where was the outcry from the Yukon public that said the opposition must be muzzled, the opposition is doing a disservice to the Yukon, the opposition is responsible for the deterioration of the decorum in this House?
And on that point, Mr. Speaker, in my short tenure here, my second term, I've never seen it as bad, and this is under a Liberal government watch. It has disintegrated from the levels it was before because the members opposite don't want to be here, and they show it daily. We can't get ministers responsible for departments and agencies to stand on their feet and answer. Other ministers answer for them. Why, then, is that minister responsible for that department a minister? If you want to improve and restore confidence in government, start with your own inner workings. Now, this sitting began on a very sour note. This sitting began by the newly appointed government House leader launching a press release accusing the opposition of filibustering the budget. It said, "We heard rumours." There was a rumour that the opposition was going to filibuster the budget.
Mr. Speaker, in the first place, nobody had even seen the budget. Secondly, given the fact that this is the first time that we've had to deal with a capital budget in the fall for expenditure in a fiscal year that doesn't begin until April of 2002 and that the government has undertaken the misguided process of government renewal, there was no reason to filibuster the budget, because we're going to have to re-debate a great portion of this budget again in the spring.
Now, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, who is wasting time in this House? Given what the government is undertaking in its own internal processes, why is this budget even here? And I'll go further on that line - if this is all about highway construction, the departments have those particular contracts ready. The cross-sections are done, and the volumes and material are sitting there on paper. There was no need for this to come forward now - none at all.
If you wanted to help the industry to prepare itself for the spring with the capital budget, you could have informed them about what projects will be coming, and they could have done their work. How is this going to work, when a lot of these expenditures on the capital budget here this fall are going to be moved? We are going to have to re-debate it and reallocate the money - new spending authority. Who's wasting the time of this Legislative Assembly?
Mr. Speaker, I stand here and have no hesitation in pointing a finger at the Liberal government, the members opposite. They have, day in and day out, time after time, shown examples of waste - waste of time in this Assembly in their headlong attempt to stay away from accountability to the public.
Now, this government, even though it claims that it upholds the institutions of the Yukon government, of this Assembly, of democracy, again, by this motion, is contradicting that claim.
Now, the government House leader, when we discussed this, this morning - and on this matter I will, with all due respect, speak for the leader of the third party also - when we were talking about the agenda for today's sitting, the government House leader wasn't even willing to commit what business would follow the Member for Whitehorse Centre's motion.
The two opposition House leaders had to basically extract that information from the government House leader, and it took some doing. We shouldn't have to do that. If the members opposite are indeed interested in being accountable, the government House leader should be at least forthright in what the business of the Assembly will be for that specific day. And that is not happening.
That is a sign that this government should not be given the privilege of closure in this Assembly.
If the opposition requires more time to conduct the public's business, the government side should be ready, willing and forward about this, in allowing that time to take place.
We cannot let them arbitrarily shut this Assembly down. We cannot let them arbitrarily shut budget debates down. We cannot let them arbitrarily shut down debates on legislation. Look at the legislation before us here in this sitting - two extremely important pieces of legislation. Now, let me begin with the Wildlife Act. The amendments to that act have a huge impact on this territory, have an impact on our industry in hunting and guiding, have an impact on the First Nations, and they are simply very, very concerned about this legislation. And it's going to require a lot of debate to ferret out those issues, to ensure that the government really knows what it's doing. If the government doesn't know what it's doing in bringing legislation to this House and we allow them the ability, the option to close debate, I would say, Mr. Speaker, that they will use that when it's at their convenience.
The members opposite have shown that time and time again. When it's convenient, they will uphold the rules of this House, but when it's not, they attack them. We cannot allow that to happen. The Wildlife Act, Mr. Speaker, will require a number of days. The act to amend the Parks Act is going to require a number of days. In the first place, I believe it contradicts the commitment that the Liberals made to the Yukon public to enshrine the protected areas in legislation.
All it is is a feeble attempt at honouring that commitment by amending the existing Parks Act, which poses a litany of questions, because the protected areas strategy is not a forever process. So what should be happening is the strategy should be enshrined in separate legislation, in its own legislation.
So, that has added to the need to debate what's going on with that legislation because of how they have amended an existing act, one that I don't think has anything to do with the creation of protected areas or the Yukon protected areas strategy in this territory. It's there to ensure that we administer by law, through legislation, the parks that we have here in the territory today and those that we may have in the future. It has nothing to do with creating them through the Yukon protected areas strategy. Yet, because they're not willing to do the work - getting out there, rolling up their sleeves and dealing with the public on developing legislation - they bring amendments forward from departments.
How much work was done by the members opposite when they drafted these amendments to the Parks Act? Whom did they talk to? Whom did they meet with? How many communities did they go to? Providing all that information is something they're going to have to do before an act like that can pass.
Questions around how this is going to improve - because the members opposite said they were going to fix the Yukon protected areas strategy. How is it going to improve and fix it? Those questions have to be asked. What does this mean to the future of the territory in terms of resource development and the certainty for investment and all the things that are so very much attached to the protected areas in this territory? These questions have to be asked. If the answers are not forthcoming, I'm to take it, then, by this motion that the government side will have the right to close down debate. If the opposition is zeroing in on areas of weakness that the government side does not want exposed, then they will shut down debate.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The official government House leader, on a point of order.
Mr. McLachlan: Mr. Speaker, I wish to call the Member for Watson Lake on a point of order. He's imputing false motives on this member. This is the problem we have in bringing forward a motion of this nature. Clearly, the motion calls for - and this is the problem we have. The members opposite haven't read it, and if they haven't read it, they certainly haven't digested it.
At no point whatsoever is the word "closure" used in the motion. Mr. Speaker, it talks about "time allocation", and it allows the House leaders to debate the issue and arrive at a conclusion. The members are off in la-la land. The Member for Watson Lake is hurriedly trying to go through the script again to find out where he slipped. This issue is simply this: it calls for a time allocation for a certain number of days or hours, not less than one day at any stage.
Mr. Speaker, we believe the member has created, or has in his mind, a very serious distortion of the facts that has created false motives in this member by bringing forward this motion. We request a ruling that the member be asked to carefully read the motion again before rising to speak. If the member cannot carefully read the motion and speak directly to it, perhaps another member should be allowed to speak to the motion.
Clearly, the member is off-track. He is down another highway and is not addressing the question brought forward for discussion on the floor of the Legislature this afternoon - another example of how members on this side cannot move forward on the substantive material present in Motion No. 155, if the Member for Watson Lake continues to digress in the manner he has digressed for the last three-quarters of an hour.
Speaker: The leader of the third party, on the point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: Pursuant to the Standing Orders currently in place in this Legislature, there is no violation of the Standing Orders as far as I can see or ascertain.
What we have is clearly a dispute between members, an opportunity by the government House leader to stand up and basically make a speech to this Legislature. But I reiterate that there is no point of order; it is just a dispute between members.
Speaker: The opposition House leader, on the point of order.
Mr. Fentie: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Member for Faro for his lecture, but I would also advise him that he should read his own motion.
Under the heading "Procedure in other cases to allot time", section 3(a), it states: "When agreement cannot be reached under the provisions of sections (1) or (2)..." - which means the majority of House leaders agree - "...of this Standing Order in respect of proceedings at the stage at which a government bill is then under consideration, either with the Speaker in the Chair or in Committee of the Whole, the government House leader or designate may propose, at the time that the Assembly proceeds to government designated business, a motion for the purpose of allotting a specified number of sitting days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at that stage; provided that the time allotted for any stage is not to be less than one sitting day. The motion..." and this is important, "...shall not be subject to debate or amendment and the Speaker shall put the question on the said motion forthwith."
If that isn't closure then I must be stone dead. This is closure. It's not a point of order; it's a frivolous attempt at disrupting this debate.
Speaker: Order please. I appreciate the input from the members. The Chair really believes that this is a dispute of the facts between members. I think the intent is to bring closure, and it is what we use as terminology and far be it from the Chair to get involved as to exactly where we are going on this. It's for the members to decide. And the Chair simply cannot see this being anything other than a dispute of the facts between members, and I have to ask the official opposition House leader to continue.
Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was saying - and I think that the Member for Faro is making my case for me now - the Member for Faro doesn't even understand the content, the intent and the spirit of this motion. So how can we in the opposition in good faith accept what the members opposite, the Liberal government, are trying to tell us in rationalizing what they are doing here?
Now, I want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that really in the first two sections of this proposed motion, the opposition side does not take exception to having House leaders come to some consensus on time allocation because we have done it before. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, the closure of each sitting under this Liberal government's mandate has been brokered by the official opposition. Each and every time we come to that moment in a sitting where the government side argues that the opposition is wasting time and asking dumb questions and the opposition is saying that the government side is not answering questions, we have to work it out.
And we've done that time and time again. Time and time again, Mr. Speaker, the opposition has endeavoured to adhere to the existing agreement.
Now, Mr. Speaker, how can we accept what the members opposite are proposing here when you go further into what is not overly disturbing to section 3 (a) (b) (i) (ii). This is closure. Now, why didn't we deal with this in the Standing Committee of Rules, Elections and Privileges? Why didn't we discuss it there? Why did the members opposite pull it off the agenda? Why did the members opposite decide not to talk about this, decide not to come up with some agreement or arrangement on how we can implement something like this?
If the members did not like the addendum to the Standing Orders, why didn't they bring that forward in discussion? Nope; it was just a flat-out, "We don't agree with it; we will not adhere to it," and they bring this to the floor of the Legislative Assembly.
Instead of us debating the public's business, we are now forced to debate a government-side desire, a desire to escape scrutiny, a desire to get out of this House, a desire not to allow the public to see really what it is their government is up to, a desire to not answer questions on hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditure which are very evidently not balanced in their approach. We cannot allow closure in this Assembly under those terms. We can certainly allow the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges to convene and talk about how we can deal with time allocation in a fair, equitable manner, which allows the opposition side to do its job and at the same time gives the government side comfort that they are not going to be dragged through a tremendous, lengthy sitting for ultimately no purpose.
I think there are some historical facts around that. That very situation did take place in this Assembly a decade ago, and what happened after that? The parties came to an agreement on how the time allocation of the sittings of this Assembly should be structured. That's what happened. So why is this government suddenly making the attempt to even lessen that?
As I pointed out, Mr. Speaker, we're not here that long during the course of 12 months. We're paid to do this job, and I think we should do it in accordance with the rules of this Assembly as they are. And if the members opposite want to change those rules, I urge them to take it to the appropriate agencies. The Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges could easily have dealt with this. All that would have had to take place would be the government side coming to some realization that closure is not a good idea, and we could have reached some consensus on how to deal with time allocation.
Furthermore, this not only sets up days, but it allows the government to stop debate in the middle of budgets, legislation, in the middle of a clause. Even if there are mistakes in that legislation, they can stop debate. Even if there are serious problems with their budgeting, they can stop debate.
Why would the government side, in committing to be open and accountable, want to go down this road? For what purpose? Now, the Minister of Justice made a very poor attempt at explaining that to this House. If you look at the historical data, the averages are clear. There has been no logical reason to proceed with closure in this Assembly - none whatsoever.
And furthermore, what is it that has the member so exercised about getting out of here? Are they actually going to go out and do something? Are they going to get out of those back rooms, and go out and deal with the public in the manner they committed to?
Remember the Minister of Health's comments - "We consult properly." Well, in back rooms you don't consult properly. When you circumvent processes, that's not consulting properly. These are very disturbing indications of a government, drunk with power, that simply does not realize what it's doing.
Now, I want to be clear on another point, Mr. Speaker. We in the opposition, when we become government - which is not very long from now because the performance of the members opposite to date is ensuring that they are going to be a short-lived government in this territory - our first order of business will be, should this ridiculous motion somehow pass this Legislature, to remove it immediately from the Standing Orders - gone. We will not allow closure in this Assembly. We will not entertain any thoughts of muzzling the opposition's ability to hold the government accountable. That is why the three parties, some years ago, did what they did. And that's a very good, logical reason why they created the addendum to the Standing Orders - to ensure that, no matter what happened and no matter what government was in office, they could be held accountable and the opposition could do its job.
We simply cannot sit idly by and watch these members mismanage issue after issue, destroy the economy, start focusing on a two-tiered, or possibly more, health system.
The CT scanner is a prime example. Privatizing that was some sort of a joke in the public field. Furthermore, the minister seemed to be totally lost in what it was that he was attempting to do. The sad part is that Yukoners were not receiving the standard of diagnostic care while this minister mismanaged that issue. When it comes to our economy, one of the big commitments is to rebuild the Yukon economy - and this is a sweet one. It shows why we have a problem here and why we need to ensure that the appropriate amount of time for debate takes place in this House.
The very first statement by the Liberals in their contract with the Yukon public states, "On rebuilding the Yukon economy, Pat Duncan and the Yukon Liberals" - and this is important, Mr. Speaker - "have a plan to rebuild our shattered economy." Well, let's deal with that. A budget is the plan. A budget is the road map for rebuilding the economy, as they say. There is no road map in the Liberals' budget - none. In fact, it has the same focus and priorities as the previous budget, which doesn't do anything to rebuild the economy. In fact, it totally destroyed any positive areas in our economy and has taken us backwards a great degree. It has seen us lose most of our skilled workforce. It leaves people now in the communities with no hope, no reason to stay here. The youth are leaving because there is no reason to stay here. They haven't rebuilt the economy; they have mismanaged the economy.
Furthermore, it goes on to say that, in rebuilding the economy, their plan starts with settling land claims. And in that area there has been no progress. For the Premier to stand on her feet in this House and lay claim to an agreement signed by the Ta'an is a stretch at best, Mr. Speaker. That simply is not progress whatsoever.
I want to point out a very disturbing fact about the members opposite: their inability to grasp how they as a government must deal with the First Nations who are a government. Today I heard something that really made me take notice of that lack of understanding. When the members opposite were trumpeting their so-called devolution agreement through a motion read into the record - an agreement, I might add, that was negotiated by the former government - the Premier, again, was showing an arrogance beyond belief while trying to take credit for that. She made mention about how the agreement was signed with the federal government, territorial government, Council of Yukon First Nations and how they were working so closely together. I found that very interesting, because they did not mention the Kaska First Nation. They did not mention that First Nation because they don't know how to deal with First Nation people. And that showed a great lack of respect for the Kaska First Nation - a tremendous amount of disrespect, I might add.
Mr. Speaker, the southeast Yukon is one of the most important regions when it comes to rebuilding our economy. There can be no doubt and no question that the focus for this government should ultimately be in dealing with the Kaska First Nation.
They don't even bother to call them. They don't bother to deal with the Kaska First Nation on any level. They ignore them. They're sitting there waiting for the federal government mandate to run out, and hopefully their federal brothers in Ottawa will come up with some other idea on how to deal with that land claim in southeast Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, in the absence of any ability to address the land claim in southeast Yukon and the transboundary initiatives that they must deal with, they have also shut down another important vehicle that was helping to rebuild the Yukon economy, and that was the economic table. The economic table was put together by the former government with the Kaska to look at areas of economic development where we could realize mutual benefit in this territory in the absence of a land claim. The Premier, who lays claim that she's going to rebuild the Yukon economy, shut that table down; yet, on the other hand, she says that because of her government, there are millions of dollars of expenditure in seismic work in southeast Yukon in the oil and gas sector. Well, the Premier is wrong.
The reason that those millions of dollars of expenditure in the seismic area of southeast Yukon are taking place is because of negotiations at the economic table. It was through the efforts of Department of Economic Development officials and representatives of the Kaska that that expenditure actually happened in this territory. It had nothing to do with what the Liberals did. They just happened to be lucky enough to be the beneficiaries of the work that took place.
For the Premier to try and lay claim to that is simply unacceptable and a show of arrogance.
Leadership also has a quality - a quality that ensures that those who came before and provided some positive elements with which the government of the day have to work with, they give recognition to that fact. Not under this government, Mr. Speaker; it doesn't happen. Yes, they come to this House with a motion for closure and want us to accept it. They will accuse us of wasting time and all kinds of things, including filibustering the budget. However, the real facts are that the Liberals are wasting time with this motion. This could have been dealt with at SCREP or House leaders' meetings.
We could have dealt with time allocation quite simply in those two areas. We, today, could have been dealing with the public's business. We could have been debating the budgets and legislation. Instead, we are forced to have to make a stand on behalf of the public to ensure that this government, which is rapidly getting out of control, does not have any more at its disposal to keep its accountability from the public eye.
This motion is all about that.
Without this government showing and proving that they are worthy of such a draconian measure, we cannot allow this to proceed. The opposition is going to do what it has to do, with what it has at its disposal, to deal with this motion in a manner that we hope will get the government to realize that there are other ways.
Just because the government side has a majority, that doesn't mean that what they are attempting to do is the right thing to do.
We know that the government side cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and those examples are written in the pages of Hansard. Through their answers and their actions, it is very evident that closure is something that they would abuse and misuse in this Assembly.
Now, there are some proposals I could make here in a constructive manner. First off, let's go back to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges and have the government side put back on the agenda for discussion what it is they are attempting to do in time allocation. If that were to take place -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fentie: I just heard the Member for Faro kibitzing away there that we had our chance. No, at the last meeting, when we were there to discuss this very item, the government side refused to talk about it and pulled it off the agenda.
Now, I ask: how does this relate to an open and accountable government? My suggestion is that we take this back to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges. We talk about this very, very serious matter - closure in this Assembly - and we as legislators should find a way to ensure that time allocation is something that all members of this House can agree to and all members of this House can deal with and that we do not diminish or compromise the public's right to hold their government accountable.
If the government were truly interested in living up to their commitment, they would jump to their feet and, in the affirmative, agree that we will take this to SCREP. Furthermore, today in House leaders' and in any House leaders' meetings, these discussions could have taken place.
These discussions could have been dealt with between three individuals representing their respective parties, but that comes with some important facts that must be realized. In the first place, the government House leader must have the direction of his colleagues and his caucus, and, far too often, we've seen the evidence that that is not the case. The government House leader isn't quite sure what the business of the House will be that day. And we know that.
So, first off, the government side must instruct their House leader on what it is they want to deal with in this House, and they must instruct their House leader on a number of ways to deal with time allocation. This mirrored copy of what's in the House of Commons is not it. There is absolutely no reason for this to be here - none whatsoever. And I want to challenge the members opposite to prove to the Yukon public that this is a necessity, to get on their feet and lay out the proof of why this closure motion, this heavy-handed measure, is necessary. They can't do it; therefore, it shouldn't be here. It shouldn't be on the floor of this Legislature.
Furthermore, if the government House leader were interested in negotiating - and here's where we have some troubles, even with the parts of this motion that are actually not that concerning, but we have troubles with it because the government House leader doesn't negotiate. And I'll give you an example of that. Time and time again, when it comes to briefings, the government House leader is informed that rural members use Friday as a travel day. And I think it's just out of courtesy that the government House leader should accept that fact. Yet today he informs in a dictatorial manner that the Member for Klondike has a briefing on Friday.
It doesn't matter - it's on Friday. Whatever the member of the third party has to say about it is irrelevant; it's on Friday. Now, how can we negotiate under those terms? That is not negotiation, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It's not negotiation at all. It's dictatorship. It's arrogance. It's refusing to understand that we have rights, and we have a responsibility as opposition.
Now, some of the members opposite were in opposition, and I challenge those members opposite, who were in opposition, to point out where the government of the day rammed things down their throats, as this is here today. I challenge them that. They can't bring forward any examples. They were allowed time to debate.
They on the other side of the House, the opposition side, were the first ones to break the agreement, and that's proof that there's a problem here. They broke the time allotment themselves - the opposition did. The government side, in good faith, thought that the members opposite would follow through with the agreement. But oh no, political gamesmanship came from the members opposite. What it resulted in is that the government had no spending authority because they refused to pass the budget.
Now, the Minister of Justice, in attempting to rationalize her motion, accused this side of the House of political gamesmanship. And I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what really is political gamesmanship - forcing the government side into warrants with no spending authority because they extended the time of the sitting of this House over a weekend?
Or is it we in the opposition ensuring that the government side does not use their majority in a manner that will diminish the opposition's ability to conduct the public's business? I would say that the latter is political gamesmanship. I would say that the government side is guilty of political gamesmanship, and they're doing it in such a manner that it is absolutely disgraceful when it comes to our democratic principles.
There is no place for what this Liberal government is doing in this territory or in this House - none whatsoever. Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, I think this Liberal government should seriously consider what it is they're doing as government. They have shown again and again and again that they do not have the capacity to govern. They have shown again and again and again that they have no desire to institute a government for the people by the people, but institute a government run out of a corner office upstairs with a small centre of influence whispering in the Premier's ear what should be done in this territory. And that's wrong. That is completely wrong and is contrary to democratic principles.
When a government of the day has such gross amounts of money at its disposal and when a very small centre of influence is trying to get the government to spend it in certain ways, this is a problem. And this is even more reason why time allocation has no place in this Assembly - none whatsoever.
All we have to do is look at the budgets. There are no balanced expenditures in these budgets - none. There is a great deal of expenditure - in fact, it's like carpet bombing their ridings with money while the rest of us are starving to death.
Their propensity for partisan appointments and pork-barrelling is very evident. Time and time again, we have seen examples of that very thing.
The Minister of Education, who now has absolutely no credibility in the public or in this House, given his continuous attempts to cover up through incorrect answers here in this House, is the first to have made the partisan appointment, by politicizing the Education Act review.
Now, after all the hard work that the people on the committees did - and they came forward with their recommendations - the minister turns his back on the very main content of their recommendations and informs them that it is over. He doesn't even give them the time to reconsider the spirit of those recommendations and how they could come forward with changes, he just simply ignores them and removes them, based on the advice of that partisan political appointment to head up the Education Act review.
And there is going to be some debate about why there is a substantial amount of money allocated toward this thing in the next budget. Is this another assistant deputy minister position? What is going on here? That is why closure can't be brought in. Those questions have to be answered, somehow, some way.
If we allow the members opposite to invoke time allocation as this is written, we do not have the ability to ferret out those issues. If the members are serious about truly addressing time allocation, then maybe we have to take another route and another tack. I have offered some suggestions: SCREP, House leaders' meetings - not through this motion. But maybe the members opposite have some other ideas; however, I doubt they will ever bring them forward because of the dictatorship out of the corner office. It is the Premier who wants to ensure that they can get out of this Assembly and not be held accountable.
It's the Premier who bears full responsibility for the actions of her government and it is the Premier who is responsible for this. And the Premier should have been the one on her feet here, instead of the Minister of Education, trying to rationalize what it is they are doing. The Premier has the responsibility to deal with this matter. The Premier is reportedly the leader, and we are not sure about that because there have been no examples of leadership coming out of the government side.
Now, if we were to, just for a moment, look at a hypothetical situation and agree to this, what assurances would the members opposite be willing to provide the opposition that they will not use these measures in a manner that will restrict this House's ability to conduct the public's business in the appropriate way? Are the members opposite willing to bring forward suggestions here and now on how those assurances can be built in? We are not unreasonable. We want to make sure that, given the actions of this government - how they have mismanaged so many issues - they don't mismanage something like this. Is anyone on that side of the House willing to stand up and bring forward suggestions on how to make sure they don't abuse this very draconian measure? I think not, because I think what they are attempting to do here is simply evade scrutiny. Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have a friendly amendment to this motion.
This amendment is about, we hope, providing those assurances that the government side will not abuse these measures, because ultimately we understand that, if the government side wanted to, we could debate this each and every day until it gets through. The opposition would just fall over in a heap and the government members would carry the day and this would pass.
So we have an amendment, a friendly amendment, that I think and the official opposition believes would put some assurances into this motion that would strengthen it, that would address the true intent of time allocation, not closure.
Mr. Fentie: So let me read into the record the amendment. It goes as follows:
THAT Motion No. 155 be amended in the final clause, entitled "Procedure in other cases to allot time", by removing the wording after the phrase, "When an agreement cannot be reached under the provisions of section (1) or (2) of this Standing Order", and substituting for them the words, "the memorandum of understanding appended to the Standing Orders on February 21, 1996 as Addendum 2 shall apply".
Now, that amendment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is all about ensuring that the government side cannot abuse these orders. What we're saying is: if we can't come to agreement in the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, and if we can't, at the House leaders' meetings, negotiate elements of time allocation, then we would adhere to, as we've already agreed to, the addendum to -
Deputy Speaker: Order please. We need to read the amendment officially from the Chair, and then you can speak to the amendment.
Speaker: It has been moved by the official opposition House leader that Motion No. 155 be amended in the final clause, entitled "Procedure in other cases to allot time" by removing the wording after the phrase, "when an agreement cannot be reached under the provisions of section (1) or (2) of this Standing Order", and substituting for those words, "the memorandum of understanding appended to the Standing Order on February 21, 1996, as Addendum 2 shall apply".
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the amendment is intended to ensure that what we do in this Assembly is the right thing. Now, the opposition fully understands what's ahead of us. We know that in this coming spring session we are not only going to have to re-debate a large portion of this capital budget, but the possibility of boundary commission legislation coming forward and mirror legislation based on devolution - all of these things that are huge ticket items for the people of this territory - cannot be closed off.
The debate cannot be shut down. The appropriate time spent even if, by some quirk of this Assembly, we have to extend the time, given the gravity of the business of the House, can be negotiated through House leaders' meetings. I think it's a simple process. If there's willingness on both sides, Mr. Speaker, we can manage that. The point here is that what this does is to take the motion that the government side has brought forward, address the allotment of time but remove a very troublesome portion that would give the government side the authority to close down debate, whether it be the days of the sitting or during debate of a bill or a budget.
The government side must understand that, if we had dealt with this in the standing committee, this might have been the end result, but they refused to allow the discussion to take place. So, because they brought the motion forward, we in the official opposition are now attempting to do the work, that the standing committee should have done, here on the floor of the Legislature.
If the members take the time to truly critique what it is that we have added to their motion - and the Member for Faro now, I think, understands that the motion he was up passionately defending as not being closure is closure, given section 3(a) and (b)(i) and (ii) - then this will ultimately remove what he thought wasn't there.
I believe that the Member for Faro truly didn't know that the motion was a closure motion and now we are - through this amendment - ensuring that it is not. I challenge the Liberal members to support the amendment. Let's pass the motion as amended and let's get on with conducting the business of the Yukon public.
Speaker: Leader of the official opposition.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Pardon me, leader of the third party. It's getting late here.
Mr. Jenkins: I accept the recognition, Mr. Speaker. On the amendment to this motion. I guess what I see as the crux of the whole problem is a government that doesn't really want to be here in this Legislature and doesn't want to conduct the business of this Legislature and has some serious reservations about dealing with the important issues of the day. It is our responsibility to hold this government accountable. Indeed any government that is in power - that is the responsibility of the opposition. And, if we just go back to just before this session began and look at the posturing and the way that the government House leader conducted himself - throwing out a press release saying that the opposition was going to filibuster. It's very, very interesting and we have the government House leader going on suggesting that he is working cooperatively. It is interesting to note that, under this government House leader, never before have the opposition House leaders been dictated to as they are by this government House leader.
And that just points out the spirit of cooperation, and cooperation is what it's about. It's a two-way street. But this novice Liberal government deplores cooperation. They prefer to dictate, and this motion we have before us for debate shows that they want to dictate and they will proceed in that manner.
The amendment kind of offers a compromise. But given that the Liberals have not accepted the memorandum of understanding added to the Standing Orders as Addendum 2 - in fact, they made it abundantly clear at SCREP that they did not agree to that and would not conform to that addendum - where does that leave us?
Conducting the business of this Legislature is what it's all about, and yet this government is proving to be very inept at doing so.
Let's just look at where we are. The Yukon is going through some tremendous changes. I'm sure that next spring mirror legislation will be introduced in this Legislature. We will also have the capital and O&M budgets for the next fiscal period, as well as a supplementary. And anyone familiar with the federal legislation that we are going to mirror knows only too well how extensive that legislation is.
I think it should be a requirement of us as legislators to look carefully at that mirror legislation because there are going to be a number of significant changes. It will not exactly be mirror legislation because the Yukon does not have a Crown in right, Mr. Speaker.
All the Liberals will argue that yes, we do. But the test, Mr. Speaker, is to take to the courts a request for a determination of this fact. The Yukon Liberals are loathe to undertake that initiative that would provide certainty here in the Yukon. This Yukon Liberal government is just reacting to the strings pulled by their Liberal masters in Ottawa. That's what's happening, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, let's just apply the rules of the motion originally before us to the agenda that I've suggested may or may not come forward next spring. Mr. Speaker, compromises are going to have to be reached, because even for Committee to go through that legislation clause by clause, we are looking at a very extensive period of time. And with the closure in place, we will not have that time available to us. With the amendment to this motion, we may have that time made available to us. But at the end of the day, if this motion proceeds as originally advanced by the Liberals, closure would be the order of the day. There wouldn't be any scrutiny of the mirror legislation and probably very little time for the mains and the supplementaries and the capital budget to be scrutinized in the detail that they indeed should be scrutinized.
Mr. Speaker, go back to the opposition responsible for decorum in this House and look at what has transpired to date. We agree at House leaders' meetings that the introduction of visitors will only follow certain guidelines. This came from the mouth of the government House leader. What happens on the first day of this sitting of the Legislature? The Liberals break their own rules, that they want and ask us to abide by. We abide by them, and we just sit here and shake our heads because it would appear that the government House leader and this Liberal caucus make the rules - they are for everyone else but themselves.
Now, the decorum in this Legislature - we are all equally responsible for it, under your capable guidance, of course, Mr. Speaker. If you look at the number of instances that the Liberals have raised points of order that are virtually meaningless, one wonders who is lowering the standards of debate and causing disruption here in this Assembly.
Time after time after time after time the Liberals are on their feet on a point of order that is moot, Mr. Speaker - very, very frivolous and meaningless. All that serves to do is disrupt debate and cause delays, such as this motion we have before us today, as amended, has done, and such as the previous motion called by this Liberal government. That's what is causing delays and a loss of decorum in this Legislature. It's the inability of this Liberal government to govern, and govern properly and in a very appropriate manner.
There should be no excuse, Mr. Speaker. They have a majority, and the surplus at the end of the last fiscal period is some $99 million. That is the most significant surplus, the largest surplus ever in the history of the Yukon. In fact, it far exceeds the total budget of the Yukon of just a few short years ago.
Mr. Speaker, one can only wonder where this government is coming from and where it's heading the Yukon. We know they have turned the economy from bad to completely in the toilet. Of all the political jurisdictions in Canada, the Yukon is last - and dead last. Our economic growth here last year was pathetic. This government has failed to instill investor confidence in the Yukon. They have failed to address the issues that instill investor confidence here in the Yukon. And if you listen to the Liberals, it's all someone else's fault.
Well, they are the government, they are in charge and they should get a handle, get a grip on reality. The reality is that this Legislative Assembly is here for a purpose, and I would urge members of this Liberal caucus to recognize this purpose that this Legislative Assembly is here for. An open and frank debate is usually carried on in this Legislature. What we are seeing is a deliberate, blatant attempt to muzzle debate, curtail debate and curtail the open and frank discussion of bills and motions. In fact, in one small instance, I must commend the Liberals for even agreeing to allow their backbenchers to speak to a motion here today. Because that is the first time that I can recall that this Liberal government that has muzzled all their backbenchers would even allow them the opportunity to speak. But it would have been much better if they would have called a constructive motion. And there are a few motions on the Order Paper from the Liberal backbenchers that could be construed as constructive - could be. They might require substantial amendments from the opposition but, at the end of the day, they probably could be used to provide some direction and input into this Liberal government.
At the last session, the Liberals forewent every opportunity they had to put a motion forward and debate it. That does not bode well as to how they view the role of this Legislative Assembly, nor does this motion.
Standing back, one only has to shake one's head as to where this Liberal government is attempting to lead the Yukon. I am extremely disappointed.
But there's hope. There is going to be an election in a few years, and I'm sure that this government will be a one-term wonder. They won't go down in history as having done anything constructive or beneficial for Yukon.
I am sure the minister of parks will suggest that they have - turning most of the Yukon into one big series of interlocking parks, making sure that those parks are abutted up to First Nation land so there's no access to the areas that are not parks. Yet a direct approach to the Premier on this initiative falls on deaf ears. It looks like the minister of parks and the Minister of Renewable Resources are calling the shots, ruling the day and dictating what is happening here in Yukon.
One only has to look at the current parks that exist and to analyze the economic opportunities that we have received from the creation of those parks.
Good government jobs - yes. But what do they do for our economy?
Even if one were to advocate controlled access into our parks, Mr. Speaker, it falls on to deaf ears. And given that in this mirror legislation we're going to be taking over responsibility for all of the mining acts that have previously been federal legislation, and under the new Yukon Act and the takeover and transfer of federal responsibilities to Yukon, all of these acts will be of equal standing before the law.
Now, the reality of that is very, very interesting. Previously, the Yukon Parks Act was below or subservient to the federal legislation, but the federal legislation will now be down at the same level as the Yukon legislation. And we're going to be asked to debate all this legislation, Mr. Speaker, under the rules of closure. That is not fair, that is not realistic, and that is doing an injustice to the Yukon.
It's very interesting to see that the Liberals are not qualified to deal with the matter that they have before them. They're not qualified, nor do they want to learn the rules of debate and get down to work, roll up their sleeves and understand the material that they have before them.
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's interesting, Mr. Speaker, when you analyze where the Liberals are coming from. They really do not want to be here in this Legislature. They'd prefer to be travelling anywhere else but here.
Mr. Speaker, this motion would be somewhat tempered with the proposed changes in this amendment to the motion. I can agree to support it, but the Liberals have said that they don't agree, and they are not prepared to stand by the MOU attached to the Standing Orders. Mr. Speaker, that's a disgrace.
I urge them to reconsider their position - what they can do and how they can do it. And look at the jack-in-the-box, ready to pop up over there, Mr. Speaker. The government House leader, once again, trying to dictate the priorities of this House. I am in support of this amendment to this motion.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Keenan: I certainly appreciate the opportunity to speak to this important motion we have on the floor before us.
First of all, I would like to clarify the mystery about this motion right now, and I am going to be supporting this amendment. I'll have to take - is it 20 minutes I have to support this? That's not near enough. I'm tired of being muzzled in this House - absolutely. But I will try to make the best use of my 20 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, it has been said most eloquently by the Member for Watson Lake, and also restated by my leader and the Member for Klondike, that it doesn't have to be so, and I agree. It does not have to be so.
I think we should be - and I have said this in this House before - trying to get along, trying to identify the common goals of the Yukon Territory. We can play politics once every four years. That's what has to be. It's unfortunate, though, that it's called "playing politics" because it's not playing. It's people's lives. People who are listening in the communities and in the community of Whitehorse are dependent on government to make the right decisions on their behalf. They expect that. There are 29,983 people out there who depend on these 17 legislators in here. And as they see this going back and forth, back and forth, they think, "What is going on?" We want constructive debate. We want the opposition to be putting forth concrete ideas, concrete examples. It is government, which we as a New Democratic caucus are not. We will be again, but at this point we're not.
So we take our job very, very seriously. You have not heard very often just a rant from this side of the House in the last while. What comes, Mr. Speaker, are concrete suggestions. In Question Period I have asked the Minister of Health if the Minister of Health would consider putting into place a process for the identification of faulty septic tanks. Well, I might as well have been leading with my jaw, because I had to do a duke-out, but what I was doing was simply representing the people and doing what I was elected to do.
Not only was I elected to do it, there are expectations that I will do it, that I would do it with humility and I do that with humility. And, that I would do it with professionalism and I certainly try to do it with professionalism. I'll do it so that I would not attempt to embarrass myself or my government. That means not taking part in a donnybrook but, sure, if I have to be emotional and express emotion then that is what I'll do - for the right of the Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, I think you are going to agree with me that this House, in another two years, is going to be drastically changed. Now, a lot of people think I'm immune to that because I am so doggone popular. Well, I'll tell you, it's coming to a day in the Yukon Territory where personality-driven politics is a thing of the past - absolute past. It is nice to have a little humour. It is nice to have the ability to talk and to listen, but people want the Legislature to do what is right for them. With 30,000 people in this 220 some-odd thousand square kilometres that we've got here - it should be easy. It should be a piece of cake. It should be done with respectability. As I look across - well there are a few folks there I knew before - actually very few - and I have been in the political business for quite some time, but I come from the governance position of an acting governance.
You might ask what this has to do with the amendment. Well, the amendment again - if I can explain to the Member for Faro, government House leader - to put it back into the - how do you say that doggone word anyway, Mr. Speaker - the addendum. Number two - it was agreed. So, it gives us the ability to "flex our muscles" whichever way we can do that, but it also forces us to hunker down and do our job, bcause, Mr. Speaker, you will never be able to take the personality out of politics - never, never. It will not happen.
That's what gets a lot of us elected: our personalities and our drive for the betterment of all Yukon communities.
When we were in government, we represented all Yukon communities. Because we did not hold a seat? Well, for goodness' sakes - I mean, look at the Member for Klondike. He stands up there and he brags about us and the CDF and all the good things that I did for the community of Klondike.
Mr. Speaker, I was absolutely shocked when that member stood on his feet and did that, but it shows that even the Member for Klondike is here for the goodness and the betterment of all Yukon people. Although he only represents one corner of the Yukon, he is here for the benefit of all.
I wish I could say that about everybody in this doggone House, but I can't. I can't because some folks are here for political gamesmanship. They feel that it is incumbent upon them - and by goldarn, I don't know why they feel it's incumbent upon them to get into personality issues.
Well, I know that I'm just a country boy and that I don't speak so doggone elegantly at times and I mix words all up and whatnot. My intent is clear. My intent is absolutely clear. Should I get duked out and slapped around for that? No, because if I look into other people as they explain things to me, whether it's a child, whether it's somebody that is absolutely drunk, whether it's an old timer or whatever, whether it's a tourist, I take the time to listen to them, because if they are going to talk to me, they've got something that they want to share with me. I am an elected official, so I have to take the time to listen.
Do I do this for my own riding? Because certainly with the Member for Whitehorse Centre, we had - not a duke out, but we clarified something. I do not represent all of the Yukon. I am the official opposition; I represent Ross River-Southern Lakes. Government represents Yukon. God bless them.
Well, Mr. Speaker, there is not one riding - well, maybe one, because I'm not quite sure where the boundaries are in Riverdale and Riverside - where people haven't come up and spoken to me and asked me if I would be able to help them in this way with government. And I, Mr. Speaker, have not rubbed that in anybody's face over there. They don't even know that in some cases the minister's signing letters back to me on behalf of somebody in their riding, because not everybody voted for the Liberals. And what a mistake they're going to make, Mr. Speaker, when they say, "We got elected, you got unelected."
Well, talk about arrogance. Well, I can see that you could be proud, you could be arrogant. But, Mr. Speaker, it should only last for a couple or three months and then everybody should hunker down. Where is the humility? Where is it? I don't see it anywhere in the front benches, excluding yourself, sir. I don't see it there. And how can we represent all Yukon, Mr. Speaker, if we do not have that humility?
Now, me, just being a humble country boy, as I've said, out there working on other people's ridings for the benefit of those folks who would not go to their elected officials, I do that, Mr. Speaker, not out of the goodness of my heart but out of my desire for a better Yukon, knowing that we could make it with 30,000 people.
I've thrown out that challenge, and I'll throw it out again. I see the Member for Faro standing there, shaking his head. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have to point out - and I'll tell him quite clearly - that I'm going to call him on some of the things. Mr. Speaker, I can lip-read.
I can read body language, and as I look - it's always good to sit there with your hand over your mouth. I notice a lot of folks over there do that. Because what I have heard, through the silence and interpretation that comes from being a very hard-of-hearing person, I could call points of order, but they're not recorded.
So, Mr. Speaker, is that what we spend our time doing here in these 25 or 35 days, and then, to make it even worse - better in some cases, I guess, because it's good to have the capital budget where it is. I can agree with that. But to compound that with legislation and Supplementary No. 1, Supplementary No. 2 and Supplementary No. 3 - it sounds like a school child's skipping rhyme. If you just stand there skipping and doing your thing and you break forth, what do you do? Start over? That's what we're doing over here.
But I want folks to know that through my interpretation of what I can lip-read and the body language over there, I'm disgusted. If government would take that energy and turn it into a positive force - a positive energy - I would do my job, and I bet we could be out of here in 20 days, because we'd go back and forth, and things would happen, and I would feel assured that somebody is listening to me - absolutely assured. And I do know that people do listen to me. I appreciate it, and I see people on that side of the House. I wish that some of those people were ministers because things would just go da-doo, da-doo and truck right along. And that's what I want.
Do you think, Mr. Speaker, that being away from my family, my dog and everything I have at my home by the lake, which I built with my two hands to enjoy - do you think I enjoy being in this House and getting into a donnybrook with folks who, for the most part, I generally enjoy being with? No, Mr. Speaker, I don't enjoy that at all.
I live in the riding of Whitehorse Centre now, in a quaint little one-bedroom bungalow kind of a thing, three doors down from the MLA of the area. It's a nice place to be, Mr. Speaker, but as I said, I'm not a city boy. I'm a country boy, and I'm sacrificing some of my positives and my energies to live in the capital predominantly, I guess, on a full-time basis really, moving back and forth. And I do that because I believe in what we can positively do.
Now, some folks say, "Well, you're just a doggone socialist", or "You're just a doggone New Democrat," or "You're just this." Well, Mr. Speaker, let me say I'm a Yukoner, just like everybody else in this room. I'm a Yukoner, like most people in this room. I have been around for 50 years in this Yukon. Am I going to leave? No. They're going to bury me at a point just around the corner from Teslin. I'll never leave this country because I love it so much. I want to see it grow. I want to see it nurtured.
Mr. Speaker, we need the time and the attitude to talk to one another, to simply talk to one another. I try my doggone hardest to go out, and when I see an opposition person, I try to take the time to talk to him and to listen to him. Now some, I think, are way out of their league, totally out of their league, but I still take the time because I feel for those people. I was there once, too.
Mr. Speaker, at this point in time, I don't feel I'm out of my league. I don't feel I am. Some folks might feel I am, but I'm there for the people. Does that make me a Liberal, Conservative, right wing, left wing? It makes me a Yukoner and it makes me proud to be a Yukoner, because I want to be a part of the land and I want to be a part of the water. I was born into it and I'll die into it, and if everybody else in this room will hunker down with that same attitude, we could protect Mother Earth. We can protect our traditional economies. We can protect our contemporary economies. We can protect one another.
The 17 legislators in this room can hunker together and be like the muskox. We can be the guardians for the Yukon inside. That is what our job is, and we need the time to do it and we have to do it with respect, back and forth, and humour. Mr. Speaker, you yourself know that when the TV camera is off and when there is a break, we can talk to one another. We can write notes to one another. We can ask, off the record, "Minister, would you consider looking at this?" I'll tell you, there are some ministers over there whom I am very proud of, and I would be proud to be able to work with them with that attitude. I would be proud.
My political life has involved councillors, MLAs, ministers, and chiefs and grand chiefs and vice-chiefs. Holy moly, I really did all that. That is what I have been doing. Why can't we do this? Why can't we be those people to do this? And I offer that energy. I don't want the personalities to go back and forth in a duke out. I don't like that. That is not my nature. Yet, when I can ask off the record and we get something done, we seem to find ways to do it and I say thank you. Because I don't want to be standing in this House saying, "Well, you did this and you did that". That is an ugly side and I don't want that ugly side. Everybody has that little bit of an ugly side to them, I reckon. The good people are who control it, and we have to be able to control it.
By golly I am 50 years old, and just last year, at 49, I got my last spanking. Now, it wasn't a physical spanking but I got a spanking: "You've got to watch your mouth, son. When it leaves your lips, you can't pull it back, so think before you talk."
Whew. To me, that was a terrible spanking. I got a real spanking. I had to go back and ask and clarify it. And thank God for Ma, because my Ma makes me humble. Well, I ask everybody just to reach into that. Don't play theatrics with this; please, don't play theatrics with this. Don't say, "Agree" or "Disagree." Let's be clear and concise in our direction of what we want. If we are clear and concise in our direction and where we go here, then there would likely be 17 people, these same faces, sitting here. There would very likely be, because I think that's what the people of the Yukon want; I truly do. And I know some have been born and raised here, just like me. But why can't we do it? I have the will; I absolutely have the will. I would hunker down. I've had these types of conversations a little bit back and forth here with different members on the other side. So I know that there's a leaning to working together, but let's not baffle it. This isn't Speedy Muffler where we've got to baffle things. This is not. This is a house of legislation, where we should be able to speak from our hearts, bring things to the floor, and expect that it will be done respectfully.
Speaker: Order please. So I don't have to interrupt the member, he has slightly more than two minutes.
Mr. Keenan: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. That's time enough for a touchdown for Doug Flutie, and I hope in my two minutes here that I will be able to convince the side that is on defence now, Mr. Speaker. They might think they're on offence, but they're on defence. And folks in the Yukon know that. I've had private conversations with members on that side of the House, Mr. Speaker, and I've said, "When I'm in government" - and I will be in government again, if it's my choice - "and you won't be." And lo and behold, Mr. Speaker, the people I was talking to said, "I know."
They knew they were going to lose government based on a record of 18 months. Well, Mr. Speaker, four times 12 is 48 and you take away 18 and that give you 30 months to hunker down.
Well, I would suggest that you should hunker down with the opposition and with the leader of the third party and let's do what's right for the Yukon Territory, and God bless you all.
Mr. McRobb: It is with some reservation that I speak to this motion and the addendum to the motion today, because I think, for the most part, it's a waste of time itself. So the motion is really self-defeating. It's incumbent upon all of us in here to spend the time in this Legislature wisely and to also allow for democratic process. I guess the biggest problem that we in the opposition have with this motion is that it does not provide for democratic process. It invokes new rules that are consistent with what is known as "closure", and "closure" has been defined by previous speakers this afternoon as a very anti-democratic way of shutting down debate on matters before this Legislature. It is primarily used to stifle debate from members of the opposition.
So, for a government to be introducing such new rules - it says a lot about what the government stands for.
It could be said that the government stands for an anti-democratic state in this Legislature. It could be said that the government wants its views messaged, but not the counter-message from the opposition parties.
So, Mr. Speaker, it's really questionable to see a government that apparently prides itself on being democratic and consultative to be endorsing such a strong measure as this closure motion. And there is some history to this.
The backgrounder provided by this government to the media, apparently before the business of the Legislature started yesterday - the government House leader apparently called a media conference and distributed some background information. I have reviewed that information - I have it here before me - and it gives the reasons that the government wants known for why this closure motion is necessary. But it's a very weak explanation. What it says is that the primary objective of this motion, which would result in a change to the Standing Orders, is to encourage House leaders to negotiate a reasonable amount of time for debate on each piece of legislation.
Well, Mr. Speaker, that is not the case, because we know the motion also defaults to the government's position if no agreement is reached. So, where's the democracy there? In short, there is none. The government is essentially saying, "It's my way or the highway." There's no room for improvisation of a position, no room for discussion. It's "Either take it or leave it."
So, the position set forward by the government in this backgrounder is very weak. It simply doesn't add up. Something else in this backgrounder is that the Liberals claim this is a similar process as is already in place in other jurisdictions, including Alberta, Ontario and in Ottawa at the House of Commons and the Senate. But, Mr. Speaker, it's completely lacking in any further details such as how many times closure has been invoked in each one of those jurisdictions. It's a good question, isn't it?
We all recall the famous bell-ringing incident involving our former Yukon MP some years ago, Mr. Speaker, in response to a closure situation. One would think that, if closure were used on a frequent basis, we would be well aware of it, because the media coverage would alert us to the situations.
So I would presume that closure, if at all used, is used only very infrequently in those other jurisdictions. And two of those jurisdictions are provincial jurisdictions - one in Alberta, the other in Ontario.
Well, there you go, Mr. Speaker. They speak for themselves. Look at the situation in Alberta - the numbers on the government side versus the opposition side. Currently, it's not as skewed as it is in the Province of British Columbia, but still, Ralph Klein's Tories hold a rather large advantage, in terms of numbers, in the provincial Legislature. It's also known for its right-wing views and, at times, we have seen the Premier of Alberta in the news media laughing at, or priding himself about, the way he conducts business in that Legislature.
It might be amusing for us here when we see this on TV, but in the back of our minds, we know that, as Yukoners, things are different here. We know that the Yukon is more of a community in itself. We know that everyone is our neighbour, and we know that considering ourselves on the same stage as the Ralph Kleins or the Mike Harrises is quite far-fetched. I believe that the government has been misguided in supporting such extreme measures that put us into the same game as those premiers in much larger jurisdictions.
What could have possibly caused it to happen? Is it that maybe the Premier has been hobnobbing too much at the western premiers meetings, or in Ottawa, or maybe with the big oil executives in Houston - I don't know. Maybe she should get out to rural Yukon more often and perhaps be a little more humble in the direction in which her government proceeds, the very positions it sets, the legislation it brings in, and the very atmosphere in this Legislature that it wants us to abide by.
If closure legislation was indeed a tool to expedite debate, to use time more efficiently and to improve decorum, then we on this side could probably agree to it. But it's far from that - far from that.
In fact, such extreme measures as this have provoked rather strong views and have enraged the debate. This has resulted in a waste of time in this Legislature. It has served to degrade the decorum in the House, it has not been an efficient use of time, and it certainly has not focused debate. So the motion in itself is self-defeating.
On this backgrounder, the final little section was entitled "A history of debate in the Yukon Legislature", and the Liberals have used this information in other ways as well. It has shown up in various media reports lately and in discussion from the government side in this Legislature, and I just want to take a minute to review this.
This section displays the maximum number of sitting days and number of bills introduced during the first full year in the mandate of recent governments. It starts off with the Liberal government, which was elected about 18 months ago, and indicates there were 89 sitting days. Mr. Speaker, that's the highest of the last four governments. I'll concede that. I don't have a problem with that. But there's a very good reason for it, and that is because there was a summer sitting for, I believe, the first time ever in the history of this Legislature to start things off in the year 2000. It went several days. I don't recall exactly how many, but I believe it started in very early June - probably June 4 - and went to about July 16 or thereabouts. So, for four days a week, there were probably about 25 or so sitting days, maybe more.
Then in the fall, we got back to the regular routine, which the Standing Orders specify as 25 sitting days. Then in the spring 35 days, which are also specified in the House rules, for a total of 60 days. So I guess I can answer my own question, Mr. Chair, because it identifies the total number at 89. So that leaves 29 sitting days for the summer of 2000.
Well, what's the significance of this, Mr. Speaker? I would submit that it's not a significant number at all. First of all, the Liberals insisted on making changes to the budget. It campaigned on passing it in its entirety, which served to prolong the budget debate in the summer of 2000.
The Liberals also brought in some legislation, and I believe there was a supplementary budget, and a throne speech and so on, all contributing to a 29-day sitting. So what? No big deal. Now, in terms of timing for the year, the spring sitting of this year ended before the start of the sitting in the summer of 2000; therefore, there were three sittings within that calendar year, all combining to this figure, which I consider irrelevant, of 89 days.
That calendar year would have been different, in terms of sitting days, had the Liberals not delayed the start of the Legislature until June 2000.
If you'll recall, we in the official opposition called on them to convene it sooner. So I wonder, Mr. Speaker, had they done that, would that 89 figure still be the same?
In either case, Mr. Speaker, it really doesn't matter. It's irrelevant. There was an election budget to review. There was a supplementary budget and other business of the House. In the fall, there was another supplementary budget and other business of the House and I believe another throne speech. And then in the spring, there is a full budget and other legislation and so on. So what? That's what being in this Legislature means. Perhaps if the Liberals weren't prepared to do their jobs, they shouldn't have put forward their names for election. But to sit back now after only a year and a half and whine about the number of sitting days that they had in their first year is absolutely ridiculous.
Now, I want to move on to the other statistic provided by the Liberals in this backgrounder, and that is the number of bills introduced. And they compare the first year performance of the last four governments, and they've rated themselves at the top of the heap by saying they've introduced 37 bills. Well, big deal, Mr. Chair.
The real question is what is the relevance and substance and need of those bills introduced? And the Liberals themselves admit that many of them are housekeeping bills - purely housekeeping bills. Last spring, we heard the argument from virtually every one of those Liberals that their bills were housekeeping bills.
Just the other day, I heard again from them that a major portion of their legislation in this sitting was housekeeping bills, and I recall the reason they gave to back it up - they can't deny it. And I believe it was from the Premier, and I believe she said that there are a number of old pieces of legislation on the books that haven't been renewed for X number of years and, in a rather proud voice, said that this level of government is going to dust them off and bring them up to speed. Well, that might be good; it might be bad. Maybe people are indifferent to that. But when it comes to the numbers of bills introduced, it is really meaningless. How substantial are those bills?
Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes to conclude.
Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now, I know there are a couple bills that are fairly substandard in this sitting, and I will be dealing with them as critic for Renewable Resources. But some of these are just housekeeping bills. It doesn't make any difference. Now, the NDP government - they've got down here a certain number of days. The one elected in 1996 - I would dispute that, Mr. Speaker. I know for a fact that we sat for more than 37 days in the first calendar year.
September 30, 1996 to September 29, 1997 would entail the fall sitting in 1996 and the spring sitting in 1997. I would venture to say that we probably sat for 60 days. So where do they get these figures from?
There is a lot of room for doubt here, and it comes as no surprise to me because virtually anything provided by this Liberal government cannot be trusted. The figures cannot be believed.
Providing background information such as this to the Yukon media and who knows who else - other members of the public - enforces what we're saying about how this is a government that cannot be trusted. The facts will be spun in whatever way possible to the political advantage of this government, and this is another example -
Speaker: Order please. The member's time has expired.
Mr. McLachlan: We'd love the opportunity to reply to some of what we have heard here this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the members of the opposition for their brilliant words this afternoon - for what they have done - and especially the Member for Watson Lake. He has just given the Minister of Economic Development the best idea we have ever heard for economic development in this territory. We're going to take everything they said, bag it and sell it for corn. That is a great idea to get money out of the territory. That's about the extent of what was said by members opposite this afternoon.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the very reason that this type of motion is on the floor is exhibited by the speeches from the Member for Watson Lake. The Member for Watson Lake is the only person who can stand on the floor of this Legislature for four hours on two consecutive Wednesday afternoons and say absolutely nothing.
The motion - the amendment - should really have been that the members would like to adjourn debate at 5:00 p.m. to go out and put on their costumes and try to masquerade to the people of Whitehorse that they're from the good guys' team. That's what the amendment should have been.
Mr. Speaker, the members opposite wouldn't even talk about an improvement to the rules in SCREP this past summer. We had a hard time getting them to come to a meeting, and now they say that's the answer. Hardly. Hardly.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker: Order please. The leader of the third party, on a point of order.
Mr. Jenkins: The government House leader is imputing false statements here in the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, and that's against the Standing Orders of this Legislature. The information he is providing is inaccurate, incorrect, and all the terms that you apply are just wrong. The government House leader is wrong.
Some Hon. Member: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: The official opposition House leader, on the point of order.
Mr. Fentie: I'd just like to point out to the Member for Faro, the government House leader, that when he makes the comment that we didn't even make mention of the positive changes to the Standing Orders, I would ask him to refer to Hansard tomorrow morning, and he'll see clearly in Hansard that I did make mention of those changes - to ministerial statements, to the removal of anticipation, to the wording used in the context that may be sexist or violent in nature. We did make mention of those things. So the Member for Faro is certainly imputing falsehoods.
Speaker: The Minister of Education, on the point of order.
Hon. Mr. Eftoda: Obviously the members opposite are a little sensitive, and I would suggest that this is just a dispute among members, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It is the Chair's feeling that although two members from the opposition side got up and objected to something that was being said, they gave me no guidance. Clearly, I think that it was just a dispute between members.
The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Debate on Motion No. 155, and the amendment, accordingly adjourned
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled October 31, 2001:
Priority of Maintenance Orders: letter (dated October 31, 2001) to Mr. Jenkins, Member for Klondike, from Hon. Ms. Buckway, Minister of Justice, responding to questions raised on October 29, 2001. (Buckway)
Fuel Purchase Policy: letter (dated October 10, 2001) to Mr. Fentie, Member for Watson Lake, from Hon. Mr. Jim, Minister of Government Services. (Keenan)
The following Legislative Return was tabled October 31, 2001:
Renewal Process: expenditures to date; summary of consultations (Duncan)
Oral, Hansard, p. 2261