Thursday, February 27, 2003 — 3:00 p.m.
THE FIRST SESSION OF THE 31ST LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF YUKON, CONVENED IN THE ASSEMBLY CHAMBER AT 3:00 P.M. ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2003
Clerk:"To the Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Yukon, and to all others whom this may concern
"The Legislative Assembly is summoned to meet for the dispatch of business in the Legislative Assembly Chamber, Yukon Government Administration Building, Whitehorse, Yukon, on Thursday, the 27th day of February, 2003, at the hour of three o’clock in the afternoon.
"Given under my hand and seal of the said Territory, at Whitehorse, Yukon, this 6th day of February, 2003.
Ivan John Cable,
Commissioner of the Yukon Territory"
REPORT ON MEMBERS ELECTED
Clerk:"Pursuant to the provisions of the Elections Act, the Commissioner has been informed of the receipt of Returns to Writs for the general election conducted on the 4th day of November, 2002. These returns show that the following Members were duly elected:
the Electoral District of Copperbelt, Haakon Arntzen;
the Electoral District of Klondike, Peter Jenkins;
the Electoral District of Kluane, Gary McRobb;
the Electoral District of Lake Laberge, Brad Cathers;
the Electoral District of McIntyre-Takhini, John Edzerza;
the Electoral District of Mayo-Tatchun, Eric Fairclough;
the Electoral District of Mount Lorne, Steve Cardiff;
the Electoral District of Pelly-Nisutlin, Dean Hassard;
the Electoral District of Porter Creek Centre, Archie Lang;
the Electoral District of Porter Creek North, Jim Kenyon;
the Electoral District of Porter Creek South, Pat Duncan;
the Electoral District of Riverdale North, Ted Staffen;
the Electoral District of Riverdale South, Glenn Hart;
the Electoral District of Southern Lakes, Patrick Rouble;
the Electoral District of Vuntut Gwitchin, Lorraine Peter;
the Electoral District of Watson Lake, Dennis Fentie;
the Electoral District of Whitehorse Centre, Todd Hardy;
the Electoral District of Whitehorse West, Elaine Taylor.
Signed by Patrick L. Michael,
Clerk of the Yukon Legislative Assembly."
Commissioner Cable enters the Chamber announced by his Aides-de-Camp
Clerk: I am commanded by the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to state that he does not see fit to declare the causes of the summoning of the present Assembly of this Territory until a Speaker of this Assembly shall have been chosen according to law, but today at a subsequent hour he will declare the causes of the calling of this Assembly.
Commissioner Cable withdraws from the Assembly accompanied by his Aides-de-Camp
Motion No. 1 — Election of Speaker
Clerk:Hon. members, nominations are invited for the Office of Speaker of this Assembly.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move, seconded by the official opposition House leader and the leader of the third party that Ted Staffen, Member for Riverdale North, do take the Chair of this Assembly as Speaker.
Clerk: It has been moved by the Premier, seconded by the official opposition House leader and the leader of the third party
THAT Ted Staffen, Member for Riverdale North, do take the Chair of this Assembly as Speaker.
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Clerk: The ayes have it, and Ted Staffen, Member for Riverdale North is, by direction of this Assembly, duly elected as Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Motion No. 1 agreed to
SPEAKER’S ADDRESS TO THE ASSEMBLY
Speaker:I would like to express my thanks to the Assembly for the great honour it has given me by electing me to be its 22nd Speaker. I would also like to express my gratitude to my wife, Susan, our son, Jess, and our daughter, Bailey, who have been a continuous source of support to me. I’d also like to thank my constituents in the Electoral District of Riverdale North for the pleasure of serving them.
Please be seated.
Mr. Clerk, will you please advise the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, that the Assembly is now prepared to hear the Speech from the Throne.
Clerk withdraws to ask Commissioner to return
Speaker: We are now prepared to hear the Speech from the Throne.
Commissioner Cable enters the Chamber accompanied by his Aides-de-Camp
SPEAKER’S ADDRESS TO THE COMMISSIONER
Speaker:Mr. Commissioner, the Members of the Legislative Assembly have elected me to be their Speaker and I recognize the important duties now given to me. If, in the performance of those duties, I should, at any time, make a mistake, the fault is mine and not that of the Assembly, whose servant I am.
At this time, so that all members of the Assembly can best carry out their duty to the Yukon, to their country and to the Queen, I would claim for them their undoubted rights and privileges, especially freedom of speech in their debates, access to your person when necessary, and your favourable consideration of their proceedings.
RESPONSE BY THE COMMISSIONER
Commissioner:Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to declare to you that I believe in the duty of the Assembly and, not doubting that the Assembly’s proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temper and care, I grant and allow the Assembly’s constitutional privileges. I assure you that the Assembly shall have ready access to me and that the Assembly’s proceedings, words and actions will receive from me favourable consideration.
Please be seated.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Commissioner:Mr. Speaker, Members of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, Yukoners, visitors and honoured guests, I welcome you in our Sovereign’s name to the first session of the 31st Legislative Assembly.
As we come together on this 27th day of February, 2003, we reflect back on a time 30 years and 13 days ago when a delegation representing Yukon First Nations presented their land claim Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow to the Government of Canada.
This presentation was a landmark event in the history of Yukon. While many of those who presented the claim are no longer with us, their spirit and their vision live on.
My government is committed to implementing that vision by working together today with Yukon First Nations and other Yukoners to provide for a better future for all of our children tomorrow.
These are challenging and uncertain times for the territory, the country and the world. The tragic events of 9/11 and its aftermath have clearly demonstrated that the Yukon is not isolated, insulated or immune from happenings on the world stage. Yukoners both at home and abroad have experienced the impact of these tragic events first-hand.
These events have occurred at a time when the Yukon is in economic recession and they have added to our burden.
Since 1996, over 3,000 Yukoners have chosen to leave the territory to seek their livelihoods elsewhere. Many of these Yukoners are in the 25 to 34 age group with young families. They are our future and they are leaving.
My government is committed to reversing this trend. On November 4, 2002, it received a mandate from the people of Yukon to bring about the necessary changes to rebuild the Yukon economy and create a better life for Yukoners both now and in the future.
In order to fulfill its mandate, my government has established eight priorities that will guide its agenda in the coming years.
These priorities include: rebuilding the economy; completing and implementing land claims; formalizing government-to-government relationships with First Nations; making First Nations full partners in the economic development of the territory; implementing and improving devolution; achieving a proper balance between the economy and the environment; achieving a better quality of life; practising good government.
My government believes the Yukon can have a bright, vibrant economic future, and rebuilding it is our top priority.
Traditionally, the Yukon has been known for its resource-based economy, dependent primarily upon hard-rock and placer mining.
Unsettled land claims, a complex permitting regime controlled by the federal government and the process for creating protected areas have created uncertainty in the investment community. The net result has been a serious decline in mining exploration and development in the territory. The forest industry has suffered a similar fate in being denied long-term access to timber.
The oil and gas industry has considerable potential, especially in southeast and north Yukon.
Gaining recognition as a unique destination, tourism is now the Yukon’s leading industry. Building on past successes, new opportunities in niche markets are promising.
My government is committed to rejuvenating the resource sector, enhancing tourism and diversifying the economy by promoting the development of other industries such as film, culture and information technology.
This government has established a stand-alone Department of Economic Development and reinstated the Department of Tourism and Culture. Both departments will be tasked with strategically creating economic success.
Investment in the resource sector will be promoted through the creation of a resource permitting regime modelled on the successful regimes that are currently in use in other jurisdictions such as Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.
Further, a regulation task force will be established to review government policies, regulations and legislation in order to eliminate duplication and to reduce administrative requirements and compliance costs.
There is a renewed sense of optimism in the resource sector. In December, at Resource Expo 2002 Conference on Aboriginal Energy and Resource Development in Calgary, there was considerable interest expressed by the oil and gas industry in the territory, particularly in the southeast Yukon. Similarly in January 2003 at the Cordilleran Roundup, a major mining event in Vancouver, mining companies were expressing a renewed interest in exploration in the Yukon. Obviously high gold prices and the recent emerald discovery are sparking this interest.
Programs such as fire smart and the community development fund have been reinstated and have been utilized this winter to put Yukoners to work.
Of the $1.5 million allocated to fire smart, $1.2 million has already been approved and is funding applications from 14 First Nation governments and 13 communities.
As for the interim community development fund, there has been $7 million in applications by the February 7, 2003 deadline for this $3.5 million fund, which shows the high degree of interest in this program.
My government is also committed to investing in energy and transportation infrastructure that will serve both tourism and the resource industries.
With the approval of the Kaska Nation and the Town of Watson Lake, the development of a resource access road in the southeast Yukon would open up this resource-rich area for mining, oil and gas, and forestry.
The territory has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources that, if developed in an environmentally responsible manner, should be able to promote and sustain a vibrant and healthy economy.
The challenge facing my government is to develop a sustainable economy that is based on the private sector rather than on transfer payments from the Government of Canada.
Completing and implementing land claims is another priority. For 30 years, the Government of Yukon and First Nations have been sitting across from one another at the land claims negotiating table. At the present time, eight of the 14 Yukon First Nations have finalized their land claims settlements.
If requested by First Nations, my government is prepared to assist in completing the unfinished business, whether it be helping with the ratification process for the four First Nations that have signed memorandums of understanding, or in re-engaging the federal government in negotiations with the two First Nations that have not reached final agreements.
The respective parties have invested years of negotiation in the land claims process, and my government will do everything within its power to bring this process to a successful conclusion.
My government is committed to fully implementing the land claims agreements that have been reached and to make them living, working documents.
My government is committed as a priority to establishing a government-to-government relationship with First Nations based on mutual respect, consultation and collaboration for the better operation of all governments in the territory, with the objective of reducing barriers and providing more cost-effective services to all Yukon citizens. This relationship will extend to all areas of governance, including the economy, education, health, justice, social and community services.
Recently announced agreements with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation are in keeping with this major commitment of my government. Making First Nations a full partner in the economic development of the territory is an important priority. For far too long, Yukon First Nations have experienced the impact of development while experiencing few of the economic benefits. The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 and the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942 are two major examples.
It is time for First Nations to receive their fair share of economic benefits from resource development within their traditional territories. First Nations are being invited to share in the burdens of the decision-making process as well as share in the economic benefits resulting from these decisions.
My government is taking what it calls a "Team Yukon" approach to governance with First Nations in order to create a positive investment climate in the territory. By working together, my government believes it is possible to align the economic interests of the First Nation governments with those of the Government of Yukon.
It is the objective of my government to develop a governance regime that will provide the certainty resource investors need to make positive decisions about investing in Yukon’s resources. This will lead to jobs for all Yukoners.
My government is committed to implementing and improving devolution. On April 1, 2003, my government will assume the responsibility under the devolution transfer agreement, for the control and management of the territory’s mineral, land, forest and water resources. Devolution will allow my government to manage and develop the territory’s resource wealth for the benefit of all Yukon people, both now and in the future. Devolution will allow my government to implement policies and regulatory regimes that will contribute to a prosperous and competitive economy. Devolution can also serve as a useful tool to help restore investor confidence in the territory.
While my government is committed to implementing devolution, it also recognizes that there are major problems with both the devolution transfer agreement and the new Yukon Act that need to be addressed.
One major problem concerns devolution proceeding before the completion of the Liard First Nation’s land claim, the settlement of the Ross River Dena Council and the Kaska Nation transboundary claims, as well as possibly before the ratification of the four First Nations that have signed memorandums of understanding. The Kaska Nation plans to challenge devolution in the courts on May 13, 2003, and my government has employed a negotiator to seek an abeyance agreement prior to this date.
Outside land claims and the abeyance agreement, my government is developing an economic partnership with the Kaska with the objective of opening up southeast Yukon to mutually acceptable resource development.
Should my government be successful in reaching an agreement in southeast Yukon where land claims remain outstanding, the task should be made that much easier in reaching agreements with other First Nations that have land claim agreements or are in the ratification process.
By involving First Nations in the resource development decision-making process, my government believes devolution will provide the land and resource certainty that industry is seeking and will contribute positively in rebuilding the Yukon economy.
Other major problems with devolution concern the transfer of federal employees to the Government of Yukon, funding for forest fire suppression, environmental liability and mine site reclamations as well as issues relating to the Crown in right of Yukon, and the recognition of the territory’s northern offshore boundaries in the Beaufort Sea.
My government is committed to working to correct these deficiencies over the course of its mandate.
In order to rebuild the Yukon economy, there must be a proper balance between economic development and environmental protection.
My government is committed to achieving this priority while respecting the environment.
Toward balance, my government has discontinued the existing Yukon protected areas strategy while continuing with the significant obligations under the land claims agreements for special management areas.
The ultimate establishment of protected areas must be through a process of negotiation with all Yukon partners and stakeholders, which strikes a balance between environmental protection and responsible development.
On January 31, 2003, my government and the Vuntut Gwitchin signed an agreement that established the boundaries of the Fishing Branch park and work will proceed on implementing the management plan.
The recent decision by the Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to phase out the Yukon placer authorization that has been in place for a decade has once again demonstrated the need to reach a proper balance between the operational needs of the placer mining industry and the responsibility of DFO to protect fish habitat.
The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has estimated that 56 per cent of placer mining operations in the territory will have to shut down because of the new water quality standards. My government is committed to working with the mining industry, First Nation governments and the federal minister to resolve the current impasse.
It must be recognized that many Yukon rivers, such as the White River, are naturally silty and still fish are found in them.
Clean drinking water is a resource Yukoners treasure and my government is committed to taking measures to ensure its safety.
It will also initiate measures to deal with hazardous waste such as waste oil as well as promote recycling in order to keep our environment clean.
In view of developing economic pressures, my government will continue to support the initiatives of the Vuntut Gwitchin to preserve and protect the Porcupine caribou herd.
In developing and diversifying the Yukon economy, my government honours its obligation to protect the Yukon’s environment and its fish and wildlife.
All of the foregoing priorities of my government will mean little if they do not lead to improving the quality of life of Yukon residents and create healthy, vibrant communities. People are Yukon’s most precious resource and how well a society cares for its citizens from the very young to the very old is of paramount importance.
The Yukon, like its two sister territories, is confronted with ever-increasing health care costs that can no longer be sustained and the Canadian health services transfer program that provides federal funding for provincial health care is of little assistance to the northern territories because of their small populations, vast distances and high costs. My government has joined with the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Nunavut to seek an accord with the Government of Canada that will address the high cost of providing health care north of 60.
Alcohol and drug abuses are endemic Yukon problems. As a consequence, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is one of the most serious, all-pervasive Yukon problems that is affecting our education, health care, justice and social service systems. My government is committed to implementing a five-step action plan to deal with this FASD affliction.
My government must ensure that the right programs are being delivered to those in most need on a priority basis and that the best services possible are being delivered in the most cost-effective manner.
Yukon’s public and advanced education system must provide Yukon students with the necessary skills to prepare them for the job market, responsible citizenship and lifelong learning.
My government is committed to promoting excellence in education and providing assistance to both students and teachers in achieving this goal. As well, appropriate training programs will exist so Yukoners can get jobs resulting from local economic opportunities.
The provision of affordable, quality child care is also of concern to my government and is being examined, as are measures to promote the well-being of the Yukon’s elders and seniors, such as increasing the pioneer utility grant.
The territory has artistic, educational, health, social and recreational services and facilities that are second to none in Canada.
This government believes in our cultural and heritage resources and recognizes the value they bring to all Yukoners and the tourism industry.
The challenges facing my government in preserving and maintaining the quality of life in the Yukon are many and varied. My government is committed to meeting these challenges.
Practising good government is another important priority of my government.
It is adopting an inclusive approach to governance based upon consensus, consultation, collaboration and, where need be, compromise.
In the Legislature, this approach means my government will be seeking support for an all-party committee on appointments to major boards and committees as well as an all-party agreement on a code of conduct and decorum in the Legislature. It will also lead to the establishment of a commission to examine electoral reform.
This approach means working with Yukoners and the Yukon public service to ensure government programs and services, as well as the structure of government, are designed to meet the needs of Yukoners.
I have already mentioned the reinstatement of the Department of Economic Development and Department of Tourism and Culture. In addition, the Department of Infrastructure is being renamed as the Department of Highways and Public Works, and the Women’s Directorate will be restored to its previous status.
This collaborative approach is also being utilized to develop a pan-northern cooperative relationship with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut as well as with the State of Alaska and the Province of British Columbia.
Health care, northern pipelines and a pan-northern economic agreement are all matters where the three territories can cooperate for their mutual benefit.
My government believes that the three northern territories working collectively together will be better able to achieve their objectives with the federal and provincial governments than by working in isolation.
During this sitting, hon. members will be asked to consider the 2003-04 capital and operation and maintenance budget, an act to amend the Pioneer Utility Act, amendments to the Fuel Oil Tax Act, an act to amend the Supreme Court Act, an act to amend the Territorial Court Act and an act to repeal the Government Accountability Act.
In addition to these bills, members will be asked to consider mirror legislation that will give legislative force and effect to the devolution transfer agreement effective April 1, 2003. The mirror legislation includes the Placer Mining Act, the Quartz Mining Act, the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, the Waters Act and the Environmental Assessment Act.
May divine providence attend your deliberations. I thank you in our Sovereign’s name.
God bless Yukon and God bless Canada.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber, accompanied by his Aides-de-Camp
Speaker: Prior to calling the House to order, former Speaker, Sam Johnston, will be received to give the opening prayer.
As many of you are aware, February 14 marked the beginning of a year-long celebration of honouring Yukon First Nations. This celebration commemorates the 30th anniversary of the presentation of Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow to the Government of Canada and the establishment of the Council for Yukon Indians, the predecessor of the Council of Yukon First Nations. It also marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Umbrella Final Agreement.
As a mark of respect for the celebration, I have invited Sam Johnston of the Teslin Tlingit Council to give today’s invocation. Mr. Johnston was one of the First Nations chiefs who presented Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow to the Prime Minister of Canada. Mr. Johnston was also the first First Nation person to be named Speaker of a legislature in Canada and served the Yukon Legislative Assembly as Speaker from 1985 to 1992.
I would now ask the Sergeant-at-Arms to escort Mr. Johnston to the floor of the House to offer the invocation.
Sergeant-at-Arms escorts Mr. Johnston to the floor of the House
Mr. Johnston:O Great Spirit, Creator and Leader of all people, we are thankful to be gathered here today. O Great Spirit, I ask you to bless each and every one in this House. O Great Spirit, I ask that they, the elected members, will only make strong, fair and sound decisions on behalf of the people they represent throughout Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, hon. members, it is indeed a great honour to be part of the First Sitting of the 31st Legislature. Thirty years ago, it was only a dream that we’d be working together for the betterment of all Yukoners. Today, it’s very encouraging to see our younger people here as part of government now, and when I say this I have to say this for Pelly-Nisutlin and Lake Laberge, our two young men who are interested enough to work for the people of our great Yukon.
It’s only by working together both with the First Nation governments and other governments that we will make a better Yukon where we look forward to raising our children and making a better place for our grandchildren.
We always believe that anything that we do working collectively with each and every one that we represent that it will only work for the betterment of everybody when we work hand in hand. So today I would just like to say thank you very much. I know that with this being just the beginning of the Legislature, a lot of you have a lot of work to do, but by working together I’m sure you will do your best.
And now, for our Tlingit listeners out there, I’d like to speak in my own language…
[Mr. Johnston spoke in native language. Translation unavailable.]
INTRODUCTION OF PAGES
Speaker:At this time I will call the House to order. Please be seated.
I am pleased to announce that eight students from Vanier Catholic Secondary School and from Porter Creek Secondary School will be serving as legislative pages for this sitting. We have five of them with us today, and I would ask that they rise as I give their names. They are Brooke Martel, Helen Wale, Lisa Beauchemin, Jennifer Bergsma and Ben Ryan. The three pages who could not be with us today are Amanda Spenser, Crystal Pratt and Amy Ball. At this time Brooke Martel and Ben Ryan will be joining us on the floor of the House to assist in today’s proceedings. I would ask that all members join me in giving a warm welcome to our pages.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 1: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that a bill, entitled An Act to Perpetuate a Certain Ancient Right, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that a bill, entitled An Act to Perpetuate a Certain Ancient Right, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 1 agreed to
TABLING SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Speaker:I wish to inform the Assembly that I have received a copy of the Speech from the Throne, which I will now table.
CONSIDERATION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Hon. Mr. Fentie:Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speech from the Throne be considered on a day following.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that the Speech from the Throne be considered on a day following.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House, pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 26(2), that consideration of a motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne will take place on Monday, March 3, 2003.
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure at this time?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Duncan:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that:
(1) Liberal members of the Legislature have, since the 29th Legislative Assembly, consistently supported the creation and appointment of an all-party standing committee on appointments to major government boards and committees, and
(2) the Liberal government of the 30th Legislature brought forward a motion, adopted by the House on October 31, 2000, establishing such a committee within Standing Order No. 45 of the Standing Orders of this Assembly, and
(3) the position of the Yukon Party respecting the appointment process for major boards and committees has been subject to change; and
THAT this House urges the House leaders to take such immediate action as is necessary to achieve the early appointment of members to the standing committee on appointments to major government boards and committees.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: The House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 3:51 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled February 27, 2003:
Speech from the Throne (Speaker Staffen)