Whitehorse, Yukon

Tuesday, March 4, 2003 — 1:00 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Tributes.

TRIBUTES

In remembrance of Aron Senkpiel

Mr. Cardiff: I rise today to ask all members of the House to join me in paying tribute to Aron Senkpiel and to extend our condolences to Elaine, Ben, Peter and the family.

Aron had a vision of and a passion for higher education, and I came to know him during my time at Yukon College. Aron’s vision was education in the north, for the north and by the north. Aron’s vision and extraordinarily hard work had a truly profound effect on Yukon College, the Yukon community and, more recently, the circumpolar world. He has been intimately involved in all major developments in northern university level post-secondary education since 1980 when he accepted an offer from the University of British Columbia to teach English for the Yukon teacher education program.

From 1982 to 1992, Aron was instrumental in the progression of the Yukon teacher education program into the arts and science division of Yukon College. Aron would lead this division as dean for well over a decade. In 1998, he submitted a proposal to the Yukon government for the diploma in northern studies. While establishing northern studies at Yukon College, Aron also focused his efforts on expanding transfer credit for the arts and science division courses and improving connections with university-based northern specialists and locating opportunities for networking in northern studies.

During this time, the College moved to its new location, and the territorial government announced a $1-million endowment fund to support northern and Yukon research. This endowment was largely due to Aron’s efforts to develop research capacity in the Yukon. Under Aron’s leadership, the arts and science division also saw the development of the renewable resource management program, the northern service worker, bachelor of social work program, the women’s studies program, and in conjunction with the University of Alaska Southeast, a masters of education and a masters of public administration were offered.

And the B.C. Council on Transfer and Accreditation formalized the transfer of Yukon College’s university-level courses to all universities in British Columbia.

Aron also moved Yukon College into the limelight in the circumpolar arena. In 1996, Yukon College and the University of Lapland received funding for their northern consortium proposal. In 1997, Aron joined the taskforce created by the Arctic Council that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the University of the Arctic. Aron played a key role in developing the bachelor of circumpolar studies program, which he saw as one solution to the need for access to undergraduate degree programming in the Yukon.

Aron’s contribution to the Yukon has been immense and has changed the educational landscape of the Yukon and the circumpolar north.

We may mourn his loss but we must celebrate his accomplishments. Aron’s vision of a higher education in the north for the north and by the north is becoming a reality, and now it falls on us to see that it continues.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza: On behalf of the Yukon government, I would like to pay tribute to Aron. I had the pleasure of being a student in the arts and science program, so I got to know Aron quite well. I know he’s going to be sadly missed by the people in the Yukon Territory, and especially the College.

I would also like to say that, traditionally, our belief is that, when you pass on, you do go to a better place. Today, I believe that Aron has, and I wish to express our condolences to his family.

Mahsi'cho.

Speaker: Introduction of visitors.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Ms. Duncan: I rise as the MLA for Porter Creek South to ask all members in this House to join me in welcoming Mr. Gordon McIntyre to the Speaker’s gallery today.

Applause

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Speaker: Under tabling of returns and documents, I have for tabling the annual report for the ombudsman and the information and privacy commissioner for the 2001 calendar year.

Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?

Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 19 of the Yukon Development Corporation Act, I am tabling the 2001 annual report. It is comprised of two documents. One covers Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy, and the other is for the Energy Solutions Centre Inc.

Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?

Petitions?

PETITIONS

Petition No. 1 — received

Clerk: Mr. Speaker and hon. Members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No.1 of the First Session of the 31st Legislative Assembly, as presented by the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin on March 3, 2003. This petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.

Speaker: Petition No. 1 is accordingly deemed to be read and received.

Are there any petitions to be presented?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

introduction of bills

Bill No. 32: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 32, entitled First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 32, entitled First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 32 agreed to

Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?

Bill No. 21: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that Bill No. 21, entitled Act to Amend the Pioneer Utility Grant Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that Bill No. 21, entitled Act to Amend the Pioneer Utility Grant Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 21 agreed to

Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?

Bill No. 29: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Ms. Taylor: I move that Bill No. 29, entitled Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 29, entitled Act to Amend the Territorial Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 29 agreed to

Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?

Bill No. 30: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 30, entitled Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 30, entitled Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 30 agreed to

Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?

Are there any notices of motion?

NOTICES OF MOTION

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT the hon. members Dean Hassard, hon. Peter Jenkins, Brad Cathers, Haakon Arntzen, Todd Hardy, Gary McRobb and Pat Duncan be appointed to the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges;

THAT the said committee have the powers to call for persons, papers and records and to sit during intersessional periods;

THAT the said committee review, as necessary, such Standing Orders as it may decide upon;

THAT the said committee, following the conduct of any such review, report any recommendations for amendment to the Assembly; and

THAT the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly be responsible for providing the necessary support services to the committee.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:

THAT the hon. members Brad Cathers, hon. Peter Jenkins, Lorraine Peter and Pat Duncan be appointed to the Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments;

THAT the said committee have all the powers to call for persons, papers and records and to sit during intersessional periods;

THAT the said committee review such new regulations as it may decide upon;

THAT the said committee review such other existing or proposed regulations as are referred to by the Assembly; and

THAT the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly be responsible for providing the necessary support services to the committee.

I give notice of the following motion:

THAT the hon. members Todd Hardy, hon. Dennis Fentie, hon. Peter Jenkins, Patrick Rouble, Eric Fairclough and Pat Duncan be appointed to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts established pursuant to Standing Order 45(2);

THAT the said committee have he power to call for persons, papers and records and to sit during intersessional periods; and

THAT the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly be responsible for providing the necessary support services to the committee.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:

THAT the hon. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 45(2), be appointed Chair of the Members’ Services Board;

THAT the hon. Dennis Fentie, Todd Hardy, Pat Duncan and hon. Peter Jenkins be appointed to the Members’ Services Board;

THAT the board consider:

  1. budget submissions for the following votes: a) Legislative Assembly, b) Ombudsman (including Information and Privacy Commissioner) c) Conflicts Commission, and d) Elections Office;
  2. and

  3. Policy questions concerning matters such as a) space allocation, b) staffing, c) caucus funding, d) media gallery House rules, and e) Hansard;

and

THAT the board fulfill its statutory responsibilities including those in the Ombudsman’s Act, the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act, and the Legislative Assembly Retirement Allowances Act.

Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?

Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

  1. The president and chair of the Yukon Development Corporation usually appear as witnesses in this Legislature during the fall sitting;
  2. The president and chair of the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board usually appear as witnesses in this Legislature during the fall sitting; and
  3. The Yukon Party, by failing to call a fall sitting of the Legislature as promised, has deprived all members of this House of the opportunity to ask questions related to these boards; and

THAT this House urges that, in the spirit of cooperation, these witnesses appear before the Legislature during the spring sitting.

Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?

Mr. Hassard: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House recognizes that

(1) fire smart and community development fund programs serve to provide much-needed work for many Yukoners and bring short-term and long-term benefits to our communities;

(2) projects totalling more than $1.9 million in combined program funding created approximately 66,584 hours of work across the territory; and

(3) practically every Yukon community benefited from this year’s interim winter works initiative under these programs; and

THAT this House supports the development of an all-party committee to work collaboratively to make recommendations for applications received under the fire smart and community development fund programs.

Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?

Mr. Cathers: Mr. Speaker, I rise to give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the Yukon protected areas strategy, in its present form, has eroded investor confidence in the Yukon and has pitted Yukoner against Yukoner; and

(2) it is of prime importance that a proper balance between responsible development and protecting the environment in the Yukon be achieved; and

(3) First Nation land claims and their special management area selections should be completed and implemented before the Yukon protected areas strategy is revisited, employing a balanced process in which all Yukoners can participate; and

THAT this House supports discontinuing the Yukon protected areas strategy in its present form and the development of an improved process involving all Yukon stakeholders.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House calls upon the Yukon Party government to honour its election commitment to protect the environment by immediately establishing a process for designating protected areas that are a product of negotiation with all Yukon partners and stakeholders.

Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?

Mr. Arntzen: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the Porcupine caribou herd is a vital part of the life, culture and heritage of the Vuntut Gwitchin peoples; and

(2) the drilling of oil and gas within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would endanger the calving areas for the Porcupine caribou herd; and

THAT this House supports the Vuntut Gwitchin in their efforts to prevent oil and gas exploration within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House calls upon the Yukon Party government to recognize the importance of Yukon College to the economic, social, educational and cultural development of the Yukon by immediately restoring the community training fund to its previous levels, and by increasing the annual operating grant to the College by a minimum of $1 million.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I give notice of the following motion:

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the federal government has a fiduciary responsibility for the provision of health care to Yukon First Nations;

(2) the February 18, 2003 federal budget states that Canada will be cutting $1 billion per year from non-statutory First Nation programs; and

(3) the Government of Canada has given clear evidence of its intention to remove non-statutory programs by instituting a non-insured health benefits consent initiative for Yukon First Nations; and

THAT this House urges the Prime Minister of Canada, in conjunction with the federal ministers of Finance, Health and Indian Affairs, to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to Yukon First Nations and to continue to fully fund the health and social service needs of Yukon First Nations.

Speaker: Are there any statements by ministers?

This then brings us to Question Period.

question period

Question re: Outstanding business loans

Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, on January 21, I called on the Minister of Finance to table an action plan explaining how his department intends to collect approximately $5 million in outstanding business loans. I requested he table that plan on the first day of this sitting.

Will the Minister of Finance provide that action plan to this House today?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I’m really glad the member opposite has brought this issue up. It has been a long-standing issue for the Yukon government here in the territory. Unlike the former Liberal government and, indeed, the NDP government from 1996 to 2000, who failed to act responsibly in regard to this issue, our government has. We have directed the Department of Finance to bring forward options that will provide us the ability to bring closure to this issue on behalf of the Yukon taxpayer, and we will review those options and, in due course, proceed accordingly.

Mr. Hardy: It’s always refreshing to hear the Premier admit that he was part of a failed plan from a previous government that he used to sit with, so that he must also carry the burden of not being able to do it then, and maybe we’ll be facing that same situation now, Mr. Speaker.

The question I’ve heard from the business community over and over is: why should some people have to pay back their loans when other people can get away without paying them? We’ve heard it in the public far too much over the last while.

The question I have is: what instructions did the minister give his department to come up with a collection plan that will be effective, transparent and fair to all individuals and businesses with outstanding loans?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: This issue in question includes approximately 72 loans out there that are delinquent, totalling approximately $5 million that is owed to the Yukon government. We have provided the direction to the department to bring forward a fair set of options that will enable us to deal with this issue, but we must keep in mind that the bar has been set by those who have repaid their loans. That is what we must achieve in this matter. We also must recognize that there are great difficulties out there in the Yukon today and we intend to put no one into bankruptcy over these collections, and we also must address the issues with NGOs that are part of the 72 delinquent loans. We don’t want to see NGOs shut down over this issue.

So we’ll proceed accordingly and come forward with a plan on how to collect the monies owed to the Yukon government so that it’s a fair, equitable and responsible approach to concluding this issue that has been long-standing.

Mr. Hardy: This issue is not going to go away until the minister shows some leadership. Now, the minister has indicated that they’re working on it. It would be really refreshing for the people of the territory to get some timelines and I would hope that he would give us some timelines today. But we’re also concerned and we want to know: what measures does the minister plan to take to ensure that elected officials or others who are on the public payroll or who hold government contracts aren’t allowed to stay in default on their financial obligations to the government?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: Let me say to the member opposite of such high principle that, when afforded the opportunity between the period of 1996 and 2000 to deal with this issue in a responsible way, not one word was said — not one demand made. This government, on the other hand, on behalf of the Yukon taxpayer, is acting responsibly. We will proceed with an option that ensures fair and equitable treatment of all Yukoners and that includes any member of this caucus or corporation that may owe money. We will treat all people fairly in this issue and we will, unlike the other governments, bring closure to this issue.

Question re: Community development fund

Mr. McRobb: My question today is for the Minister of Economic Development, whomever that may be.

On January 9, this government unveiled its new economic flagship of a $5-million winter works initiative. This initiative was supposed to use Project Yukon/community development funds and the fire smart program as a means of delivery.

My question is on the $3.5 million Project Yukon/community development fund. Can the minister tell this House approximately how much of that $3.5 million has been spent, how much will be spent this fiscal year, and the total dollar figure for application demand on the program? Can he now provide us with those three figures?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I’d like to point out, for the member opposite, that there is no minister for the Department of Economic Development, but I will, in that stead, speak to this issue. I think it’s important to note that we, as a government, committed to using mechanisms like the community development fund and fire smart to provide short-term stimulus for Yukoners and spending power where it’s much needed throughout the Yukon Territory and in many Yukon communities.

We had allocated a total of $5 million — $3.5 million of that to the community development fund and $1.5 million to the fire smart program. We have proceeded in the Yukon with the community development fund by first contacting community governments, First Nation governments, to solicit any applications they may have in dealing with a government-to-government situation. We have done that. That has seen us move forward with approximately 22 approved applications, totalling some $1.9 million of community development fund money, translating into 160-plus jobs for Yukoners, and that equals some 66,000 person-hours of work and much-needed spending stimulus in the territory.

So I thank the member for the question.

Mr. McRobb: Let the record show that the three questions I asked were not answered. The Premier alluded to only the $1.9 million that has been spent.

It has been reported that the government has received approximately $7 million in application uptake to the community development fund while only $2 million has been approved. That’s less than one-third of the announced level of funding commitments. At the time this initiative was announced, the government called it a priority and talked about how important it was to quickly deliver the funds to help Yukoners make it through the winter. Well, Mr. Speaker, winter is up in two weeks, and it would appear that the government has failed to deliver on yet another promise.

Now I’ve been informed that the Yukon Party government plans to defer $1.5 million out of the $3.5 million community development fund to next year’s budget. Can the minister confirm that for us today?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, if we follow the member across the floor’s logic, that would mean that because money is being expended right now, during the winter, and the projects would not be completed before winter’s end, then we should not fund the projects. I find that a little ridiculous, Mr. Speaker.

In total, counting fire smart and the community development fund, today, this government, since taking office December 2, has allocated over $3 million of expenditure and put it into the hands of Yukoners and Yukon communities and First Nation governments where it is most desperately needed. We’re proud of that fact, and we will continue to use this mechanism to help stimulate the Yukon’s economy in the short term.

Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, that sounds like last week’s news release. It doesn’t answer the question. Suddenly, it appears as though the $3.5-million community development fund has been slashed to a $2-million community development fund. Their economic flagship turns out to not even be a tugboat, Mr. Speaker. The government has struck out at the plate with the community development fund component of the winter works initiative. Strike one, the government wouldn’t convene the Legislature for a quick sitting in December so the funds could have been appropriated sooner; strike two, the government unnecessarily delayed the process by creating a committee that toured only some of the Yukon; and strike three, the government failed to do its work in processing the applications despite having a healthy uptake and now must delay $1.5 million of applications until such time as next year’s budget has been approved.

Will this minister now apologize to Yukoners for raising their expectations and failing to deliver on this promise?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, it should be no surprise that I disagree entirely with the Member for Kluane. The member says that if we had reconvened the Legislature, this would have been a faster process. No, it wouldn’t have been. In fact, we would have been a month later in allocating these funds. So we took the necessary steps to ensure that we were stimulating the economy as we committed to do.

I think the important fact here, Mr. Speaker, is: what are the results today?

The member should also understand budgeting. We are in a fiscal year that ends March 31, 2003. We have allocated, in this fiscal year, a total of $5 million. To date, over $3 million has been spent. That translates into fire smart, potential jobs of 199-plus, 48,000 person-hours of work created in 31 total projects. When it comes to community development fund, that’s 22 projects funded; awarded $1.9 million; total jobs, 165 Yukoners working, translating into 66,000 person-hours of work. I would say that’s an accomplishment. We are living up to the commitment that we made to Yukoners and we will continue to do that with the community development fund and fire smart.

Question re: Community development fund

Ms. Duncan: I would like to follow up with some questions with respect to the community development fund, and the minister or the Premier may choose to answer them.

What I didn’t hear in the previous answers from the Premier is general government policy with respect to the community development fund money. Should that money be approved on a level playing field? In other words, should everybody go through the same process and the same application form to have an equal shot at the funding? Does the Premier or the minister, whoever is choosing to answer, support that level playing field approach to handing out community development fund money?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: Of course we support that, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. That’s why a technical review committee reviews all applications and makes recommendation. That is a level playing field.

Ms. Duncan: Perhaps, then, the Premier would care to explain why that level playing field doesn’t exist. During the recent election campaign, both the Premier and the Member for Klondike signed a letter to a group in Dawson that said a Yukon Party government would provide community development funding to a level necessary to rebuild and enlarge a building. In other words, "No application necessary, folks. We’re just going to provide you with the money."

How does the Premier answer to the volunteers who spent hours and hours working on their application form, when this group in Dawson has a separate line unto themselves? They have their own backroom deal with the Premier.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I’m not quite sure what point the member opposite is trying to make in this regard, but there are still monies left in the community development fund. There are many applications yet to be reviewed and more applications coming in. The first phase of what we did with the community development fund was to solicit applications from community governments and from First Nation governments, and now we’ll move beyond.

I see no issue here, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Duncan: The Premier sees no issue with this. He apparently can’t tell right from wrong. He said the process is fair. It’s not fair when a group in Dawson has it in writing, signed by both the now Premier and the Member for Klondike — no application necessary. We will pre-approve your funding under the community development fund to enlarge a building. They have it in writing from the now Premier and the MLA for Klondike — no application necessary.

How can the Premier possibly stand and tell all the other applicants that the process has been fair, when they’ve spent volunteer time filling out an application form, and there’s no application necessary for this group? How does the Premier pretend that’s fair?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: Well, the obvious answer is that there is no money flowing to this particular group at this time because there is an application, I would assume, coming. The technical review committee, should they receive an application from this particular group in Dawson City, will make their assessment and provide recommendation. That’s a level playing field. That’s how we continue to conduct the community development fund program. It has been working in the past. The only real problem that ever arose with it was the ill-advised approach that the former Liberal government had taken in slashing the community development fund and going through a very arduous and not very workable process.

We will continue to use this mechanism, as I’ve stated, to help create stimuli across this territory. The evidence bears that out. Money is being distributed across the Yukon, in villages, in municipalities, in the City of Whitehorse, with First Nations, with groups. What more needs to be said, Mr. Speaker? It’s a good program. We believe in the program. We thank the NDP for its creation many years ago, and we will continue to use it in a fair and equitable manner.

Question re: Macaulay Lodge, closure of

Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The minister told the public that the reasons for moving the residents of Macaulay Lodge were because the building was old and had many structural problems and that he could not ask the residents to remain there any longer.

The minister said that he made this decision very quickly. Apparently, Mr. Speaker, he made it so quickly that he neglected to consult with his own colleagues. The Member for Lake Laberge certainly wasn’t in the loop — at least he said so at a public meeting.

Now, the minister has had a day to basically think about the answers to my questions yesterday, so I’ll ask the question again: will the minister now table any reports or documentation that led him to believe that Macaulay Lodge was unsafe?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the member opposite to listen very carefully because the building itself, its code design, is to provide a level 1 or level 2 care, nothing beyond. It’s an issue of code, building code. It’s very technical in nature and I would offer the member opposite a briefing on this area. I’m sure I can get someone in the Department of Infrastructure who is familiar with the National Building Code of Canada and the section that applies to this type of facility to outline the specific areas that the minister is referring to. It’s very much about the building code and building envelope. That’s the issue.

Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the minister should have got a briefing before making this decision earlier in February. It’s obvious that there are no such reports, so perhaps the minister can correct the record and apologize for what his news release said. That’s what I asked him to do in an open letter on February 5, so perhaps he’ll do that.

Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister this: if the minister now believes that the building is safe, what gave him the impression that the building was unsafe at the time of the decision? I hope he won’t be blaming departmental staff, like some of his supporters and his colleagues have.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As I said in my first response to the member opposite, the issue is about the National Building Code and the standard of construction to which Macaulay Lodge is built, and that area is very technical in nature. It is only designed to provide a level 1 and level 2 care. Anything beyond that, the building envelope is unsatisfactory.

I would encourage the member opposite to take me up on the offer and we will provide the member with a full briefing on the National Building Code and the section pertaining to this area. Then he could become completely informed and probably understand the issue to a greater depth.

Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, interesting comments from the member opposite. I don’t believe the minister even knew that when he made the decision to move residents out of Macaulay Lodge. It was only then that the seniors spoke up and voiced themselves that the minister went back and did some of his homework and came up with this fallback position.

There is still an awful lot about this story that the minister hasn’t told us. His unilateral action, for example, to move the Macaulay Lodge residents so abruptly was part of an overall plan involving the seniors apartment complex, and a detox centre among others. So I would like to ask the minister this: will the minister now table his entire proposed game plan including what he intended to do with the Sarah Steele Building and where the respite and day programs are supposed to go?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the first issue, the issue was about the building envelope and it conforming to the code applicable to the use of the building. I would encourage the member opposite to take us up on that full briefing so that he can come to an understanding of it.

With respect to some game plan, our government is committed to providing the highest level of care for Yukon seniors, and we will continue to do so. We are undertaking a review of a number of these areas, but as to having a game plan laid out, I would encourage the member opposite not to take verbatim everything he reads in the newspapers because that looks like where the story is originating from. The reality is that our government treats the seniors in our population with the utmost respect, provides the best in facilities and care and will continue to do so.

Question re: Protected areas strategy

Mrs. Peter: My question today is for the Minister of Environment. One of the many promises in the Yukon Party platform was to restore investor confidence in the territory, which is the key to turning the economy around. The platform also says that this goal is dependent upon a successful resolution to the Yukon protected areas strategy.

Can the minister tell the Yukon people how putting the process on hold will accomplish any progress toward that goal?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I have to admit to a little confusion here, because I believe the platform actually states that land claims will help resolve YPAS, and not the other way around. It’s certainly the position of this government to look at this issue carefully and to do everything we can to promote land claims and to get the YPAS back on track, which is where it started, but it certainly isn’t now.

Mrs. Peter: I believe YPAS and land claims are two totally different issues here. At an election forum last October, the Premier made a comment, and that comment was, "We are going to develop a process that has a buy-in from all Yukoners. Instead of conflict and polarization, we are collaborating on this initiative so that we can advance it instead of the gridlock we face today."

Exactly when, and exactly how, does the minister plan to get that process going?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Actually, that’s an excellent quote. We certainly do intend to proceed to a process that includes the buy-in of all parties. That’s the only way we can.

As to land claims and YPAS being two totally different issues, I beg to differ on that one. They are two very much intertwined issues, and failure to recognize that is rather disappointing.

Mrs. Peter: I am embarrassed to say today that we are the only region in Canada without a process in place. We have some of the most pristine wilderness in the world, which also is a strong and growing part of our economy. Will the minister make a commitment right now to the people of the Yukon to honour the original YPAS commitment to protect representative areas of all 23 distinct ecoregions in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I agree that the protection of many of these areas is an important issue and something that we should strive for. I would remind the member opposite, however, that there are a number of ways of doing this, be it special management areas, protected areas strategies, national parks. At the present time, the Yukon is the leader in all of Canada, with 12.51 percent of our land protected one way or another, compared with something — I believe it’s around 2.5 percent for New Brunswick. If that causes embarrassment, then I would certainly like to know what people expect that we do. We’re the best in the country, and that’s where we want to be.

Question re: Workers’ Compensation insurance rates

Mr. Cardiff: I’d like to follow up with the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board from yesterday. Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, the Yukon News quoted the minister directly. His own words were, "It’s scary, where rates are headed. Just look at the Yukon government. It could do better being self-insured or under a plan in another jurisdiction." Will the minister now confirm whether or not that quote is accurate?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I learned a long time ago, as I pointed out yesterday, you never argue with someone with a barrel of ink. Whatever is printed in the paper is one thing, and reality is sometimes something else.

With respect to the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, Mr. Speaker, if the government is going to opt in or opt out of that plan or do whatever it wishes to do, that is under the purview of the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, and not the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Mr. Cardiff: Actually, I think the quote is from somebody who buys ink by the barrel.

Mr. Speaker, it is well known that Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board assessments in the Yukon are among the lowest in the country. The thing that’s scary is the minister’s misunderstanding of issues related to the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board and his wild ideas of how to dramatically change how workers’ compensation works here in the Yukon.

Will the minister tell the House the dollar effect on the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board if the government follows his line of reasoning and acts unilaterally to pull the government out of the workers’ compensation board system?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As I pointed out to the member opposite, whether the Government of Yukon remains in or opts out is not under my purview. I can’t speak to that question, Mr. Speaker. I can tell the member opposite that rates for government for $100 of assessed payroll in Alberta is 49 cents per $100; in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which is covered under the Northwest Territories board, it’s 60 cents per $100; in the Yukon, it’s $1.37 per $100. Where we go from there will have to be determined.

In the Yukon, the Yukon pays out, under Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, some of the best coverage for those who are injured on the job, and I see that as being maintained. That’s the exercise of providing a Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board — to provide coverage to those who are injured in our workforce.

Mr. Cardiff: The Workers' Compensation Act and workers’ compensation are issues which workers, employers and organized labour all take very, very seriously.

Will the minister tell us when he intends to meet with the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board for the first time and when real consultation with stakeholders will begin?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Real consultation is underway. As to when I meet with the board, at this juncture I don’t know. We are in a series of correspondence and reviews of various issues with the president and the board itself. But as to the timelines for another meeting, I can’t provide that at this juncture. It has yet to be scheduled but it will be scheduled in due course.

Speaker: This then brings us to the end of Question Period. The time for Question Period has now elapsed.

Notice of opposition private members’ business

Mr. McRobb: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the official opposition to be called on Wednesday, March 5, 2003. They are Motion No. 6, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse Centre, and Motion No. 10, standing in the name of the Member for Mayo-Tatchun.

Ms. Duncan: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, March 5, 2003. They are Motion No. 2 and Motion No. 8.

consideration of THE speech from the throne

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I wish to inform the House, pursuant to Standing Order No. 26(2), that consideration of a motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, if not concluded today, shall take place on Wednesday, March 5, 2003.

Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

address in reply to the speech from the throneadjourned debate

Clerk: Motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne moved by Mr. Cathers; adjourned debate, Mrs. Peter.

Mrs. Peter: I rise in response to the throne speech.

First, I would like to say mahsi’ cho to the people of Old Crow and those who supported me in the past election. Their confidence in me is an honour as I represent them in this House.

I represent the community of Old Crow, Mr. Speaker, and the population of the community is approximately 280 people. The community is situated on the banks of the Porcupine River. Our people depend on the land. Some of the jobs that are available in our community would be through the three levels of government.

Most people who have travelled to the community of Old Crow would agree with me when I say that ours is a very unique situation. We are isolated. The only way you can travel to and from our community is by air, and we are very proud because the airline that flies to our community — our beneficiaries in Old Crow are part of that business venture.

As I have said before, our people rely mostly on the land, and the beautiful river that runs by our community allows us to travel up and down the river to the many trappers’ cabins along the way.

We are a self-governing First Nation. Our leaders, both past and present, have always offered our people good, strong leadership with a vision, with a long-term vision of where they would like to see our community and its people. The reason for our long-term vision is our young generation, so that they will have an opportunity equal to what the rest of the territory takes for granted. We have to be creative, and we have to make use of whatever resources are available to us. Most of the funds that are made available through the programs and services that are delivered come from proposal-driven initiatives by the local people. Government-to-government relationships are very, very important for our leaders. For us, a partnership with a government that we can count on, with a government that will follow through with its commitments that were made to our people, is very, very important.

The people of Old Crow have presented the past government with a community development plan, and in that plan we have very carefully made progress so that our community can grow, because with the way that the community is situated right now, we have no more room to expand, so we need to move in another area.

This brings up many other issues that are addressed in detail in that community development plan. With all the information that was put in front of the past government, and is now in the hands of this new government, we need for you to take that very seriously.

The people of Old Crow have always been self-reliant. We’ve only had a short history with government relationships, whether it be territorial or federal. We try to make progress for ourselves, not only relying on the land, but relying on ourselves, so we can look outside and not be so dependent on government handouts.

We need for this government to meet us halfway in the initiatives that are proposed by our people. I listened to the Speech from the Throne and, in this speech, Vuntut Gwitchin was mentioned more than once. When I hear the words "Vuntut Gwitchin" I feel very proud because, to me, Vuntut Gwitchin has always been a place where we had strong leadership, a strong and healthy community, and where we provided for our children by whatever means we had, whether it be by our grandmothers taking our grandchildren out trapping to teach them our way of life, and to build the kind of relationship we need with our land and animals.

I saw the name "Vuntut Gwitchin" in the throne speech, as I said, more than once. And that’s good, but I’ve learned from my experience here, Mr. Speaker, in the last two years, that we’re also paid a lot of lip service, "Yes, we’re going to support you in your initiatives; yes, we know you have this great plan for your people; yes, we’ll support you in the Porcupine caribou issue." But the bottom line is, when it comes to following through on those commitments, we rarely see it.

There is one success that I would like to congratulate this government on coming through with and following through, that the past Liberal government would not. The documents sat on their shelf for a long time, and that was the Fishing Branch. Today our people are very proud that that signing took place. That area is very, very special to the people of Old Crow, and I thank you for that. That means a lot to Old Crow. We look forward to many, many more success stories like that. Old Crow has taken leadership in many areas like I mentioned earlier. We have to be creative in our community in order to provide training for the young people who have very little to look forward to in this day and age with this state of our economy.

We had to be creative through the Vuntut Development Corporation to address different business ventures, and they’ve been very successful. Some of those initiatives are very important to us and are also safety concerns for the community — one is with the bank erosion program. The bank that runs along the main street of Old Crow is a very dangerous place for young children, and that has been a concern to us for the past two years, with no progress. We’ve had plans on the table for a visitor reception centre, which was a goal for the last two years, and only one party would not go to the table to make that venture successful, and that was the Yukon territorial government. Both the federal government and the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation government are ready to go ahead with that plan, with one missing party.

We had plans to expand our community and, along with that, come many other issues. One in particular is a gravel source. I’m not familiar with construction myself; however, there needs to be an upgraded road built to the Crow Mountain, where there’s going to be access to some rock that can be used as gravel. In order for us to get to that source, there needs to be some work done. Along with that, there are plans that bring a winter road into Old Crow, a one-time only. There was a special general assembly in Old Crow in January where many of the community people came out for two full days to discuss that in detail.

And the money was provided for some of those projects from the community to our compensation funds.

What we need is for this government to meet us halfway because we need to move forward. This initiative is going to be successful for the young people of our community. That’s why the elders came forward for two full days to say, yes, we need to move forward with this project. It will provide the necessary training so that they can walk away with operator licences for using the different equipment that we plan to have in Old Crow. In the end, they may decide to fly, whether it be to Dawson or to Whitehorse, to make use of that certificate, instead of walking around Old Crow with nothing else to do. We need that equipment to come into our community so that our young people can work.

We have young people from the age of 18 right up to the age of 50 who are willing to go to work right now, with very little opportunity. Some of the men from our community are working in B.C. and Alberta, and they have to leave their families for long periods of time. This brings stress to their families. They have to be apart. Many of them are young families. So we do need this government to seriously have a look at that.

Here is one First Nation, in the northernmost community in this territory, that is willing to put its money on the table and to say, yes, we have a vision for our people. And you want to talk about partnership in the throne speech — government-to-government relationships? I would like to see that. I would like to see, finally, maybe, a government that puts their money where their mouth is, in many areas.

Our community’s people have a wide range of skills, and as I went door to door in October, like many of you, a very grave concern I heard was from the trappers of my community. I believe that was a concern for a long time and it’s going to be a concern, I believe, for a long time in the future.

I earlier mentioned some of the elders. They still take their grandchildren out on the land, because for us our language and our culture are so important. We’re well aware of some of the statistics in Canada that tell us we’re going to lose our language not far in the future. And from that kind of information, we feel that we are in crisis.

Again, the leadership in Old Crow, working very closely with the elders for the last few years, have developed some very important information that’s going to be used in our school curriculum in the very near future.

Along with that, we have a liaison position that’s helping our students and the trappers in the community to come together, so we can use their knowledge and have them pass that down to the young people.

We’re very fortunate in my generation that we have the best of both worlds, and that’s our wish for future generations to come — to hold on to some of the key values that our elders have known and passed down to us. Those values that I talk about are centuries old, and that is the base of our foundation today. It’s like with the Porcupine caribou issue — that issue has been outstanding for the last 20 years.

Thirty years ago, a document was taken to Ottawa, which was also mentioned in the throne speech — Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow. Those issues are still outstanding for some of the First Nations communities in the Yukon.

It takes a long, long time and it’s a good thing that our people are very patient people. I’d like to see success stories in those areas.

I listened to the Speech from the Throne and was very hopeful. There was a lot of mention of First Nation people, First Nation partnerships, in many different areas. Especially now with our economic state in the Yukon, there are some economic development initiatives that are out there that I’m sure can be very successful. I have very grave concerns when I hear some of the ministers speak, as a couple of the ministers have spoken, about rebuilding our economy and some of the words that are being used to describe rebuilding our economy. Yes, we need work out there. We need people to be working, to be making money so that they can provide for their families, so that our young people, such as in my community, can go and buy some groceries and go and share them with their grandparents.

That to me, for that young person, is self-respect. And that’s not only for that young person in Old Crow but a young person in a similar situation in Whitehorse. We all care about our grandparents; we care about sharing with our parents.

I have a little granddaughter, Mr. Speaker. She’s 15 months old. When I talk about making decisions for future generations, I’ve talked about it before because I’ve heard my own grandmother and grandfathers talk about that, and it means that much more to me today than it did yesterday for that very reason. What are we going to leave for them, especially as a government? What kind of a Yukon are you going to leave for my granddaughter? When you’re talking about unsettled land claims, moving forward in so many areas of industry, and especially oil and gas, I believe you know where the people of my riding stand on oil and gas issues. It’s a very, very sensitive area for us. We have a vast traditional territory. We have a caribou herd that travels through three different areas — one that goes through Alaska and the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The Gwitchin Nation, with its 7,000 strong, depends on that caribou herd for food. Within the last 20 years, our people have been educating people in both countries so that we can continue to survive, so that my granddaughter may experience a little bit of the life that I have experienced, maybe to have a little bit of freedom to go out and experience a little bit of wilderness when she’s a teenager, and be able to sit at a clean river, maybe have a campfire and dream what she would leave behind for her own children. That, Mr. Speaker, is what our responsibility here is today: not a bunch of empty words, not commitments that we’re not going to live by, not saying to a group of people, "Yes, we’ll be there for you." But in the end, when we need them to be there and show some of that partnership that we talk about in these documents, I wonder how many of them are around — to be there and to follow through so that we do have a better tomorrow for our people, from our elders to those who are just born, so we can have a brighter future.

The Yukon is a unique place. I’ve travelled to a few places in Canada and the United States and have always felt so good about coming back home because we can live together in this territory and work together in a good way.

Part of building those kinds of good relationships, government-to-government relationships, is all part of team work — the "team Yukon" approach, I believe, is the term that was used here — and to provide a good quality of life for the Yukon people, which means allowing the people of the Yukon to live in a secure environment where they feel safe, not where we’re going to face cutbacks and freezes on funding or put processes on hold. That doesn’t make me feel very secure for my future, because I am planning for my own retirement and I would love to do that in my community so that I can teach my little nieces and nephews what was so freely given to me by my grandmothers.

I would like to do that, knowing that, yes, I’m going to be safe and, yes, I will have a good quality of life. And I’m trying to prepare myself for that. How many other Yukoners are in that same situation?

We’re here as decision makers, making decisions on behalf of people.

But it doesn’t look like a very certain future or a very secure one, from some of the words I’ve been hearing.

I learn through observing. The last two years here for me have been a very, very good learning experience, and I appreciate that. It has been a very different environment for me and it has had its challenging moments. But working very closely together with the people in my community has given me an opportunity, not only as an educator here on their behalf…

Speaker: Order please. The member has two minutes.

Mrs. Peter: …but to also address their issues that are of very, very grave concern to them.

That’s what I continue to do, and with that I will close, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Rouble: Before I begin my response from the Speech from the Throne, I would like to ask the House to wish our Sergeant-at-Arms a happy birthday today.

Applause

Mr. Rouble: It’s a great honour for me to be here today. It’s an honour to represent the people of the Southern Lakes riding here in the Legislative Assembly. I will do my best to live up to the faith that they have put in me. As I have pledged, I will act with honesty, dignity and courage. I will do my best to represent the people of Carcross, Marsh Lake, Tagish and the folks in between.

I’d like to thank the many people who supported my campaign, and I would particularly like to congratulate the other candidates who ran, Warren Braunberger, Manfred Janssen, and Rachel Lewis. As you know, Mr. Speaker, entering the world of politics is not an easy decision to make. There were many folks who said to me, "It’s a game you can’t win." Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe it’s a game — sorry, I don’t want to call it a game. But it’s something that you can’t not try. At least I hope it’s not a game. And it would disturb me it if is, because I take very seriously my responsibility here and the purpose that we have been entrusted to accomplish. Mr. Speaker, I believe we have to try. As citizens who benefit from a society, I believe we have a responsibility to it, a responsibility to make it better.

We are entering into a very exciting time in the Yukon. Land claims are being settled, and responsibilities and powers are being devolved. We are entering into a new phase, a phase not of planning for the future but a phase of working the plan. It will be exciting. We will again have opportunities. We will be building our future.

As the Southern Lakes riding is a new electoral district, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to take a moment to discuss it. The riding, which I would like to add is one of the most beautiful in the territory, includes areas that were previously included in the districts of Mount Lorne and Ross River-Southern Lakes. The people of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Ta'an Kwach'an have lived in the area for millennia. The area, which was traditionally a hunting and fishing area for the Tlingit and Tagish people, is a transportation centre. Stampeders entered the territory via the Chilkoot Trail. Yukon ore left via the White Pass Railroad. Today, travellers use the Klondike Highway, Tagish Road, Atlin Road and the Alaska Highway.

But Southern Lakes is more than a place to pass through on your way to Skagway. It’s a collection of vibrant communities. It’s a playground for the people of Whitehorse and it’s a rural escape from city living.

The riding includes the communities of Carcross, Marsh Lake and Tagish, three very different areas. Carcross, one of the most beautiful communities in the Yukon, a community poised to take advantage of one of its best natural resources, its beauty, an area poised to take excellent advantage of its tourism potential and build upon its infrastructure of the South Klondike Highway and the railroad. It’s on the verge of becoming a mecca for tourism.

I personally am very excited about the Carcross-Tagish First Nation’s Four Valleys Resort, and the opportunities that will soon present.

Tagish, one of the best kept secrets of the territory — a little jewel. If members haven’t been out to one of their regular pancake breakfasts, I would strongly encourage and invite you all to come out. It’s a wonderful example of community spirit, a wonderful example of people coming together, and a heck of a great breakfast, too.

Marsh Lake, my home. It is probably the fourth largest community in the territory, population-wise, that is. Unfortunately, with the statistics, we don’t really know. With Marsh Lake, I’d personally like to applaud the volunteers who worked so hard recently on the Marsh Lake Loppet. Again, it was another successful event. Again, it was another example of the community working together and having a heck of a lot of fun.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with the other people in governments to make our community stronger. I met with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and pledged to work with them in the future to work toward our common goals.

I would also like to mention the municipal structures in the communities, the local advisory councils, often an overlooked level in government in our territory: the Carcross Area Planning Committee, the Marsh Lake Local Advisory Council and the Tagish Advisory Council. These organizations play a very important role in building our communities. Special thanks should also be given to the many recreational authorities for their involvements and commitments.

In preparing for this election and in living in the riding for the last five years, I have become very familiar with many of the issues. Obviously the economy is first and foremost in people’s minds. In Carcross they also have issues, especially with the economy, but also with community facilities. Tagish is an area with an ageing population; it’s a beautiful place to retire. But with that comes more demands for health care — also, the road into Tagish.

Marsh Lake faces issues of local planning, identifying where new subdivisions can occur, identifying land uses and finding its own vision for the future.

In preparing my speech, I asked the people of the riding: what message would you like to send to the Legislative Assembly? They wanted me to remind everyone that we are a community, not just a place along the highway. They also said, "Don’t let them forget about us." That was a disturbing thing to hear. It’s now my responsibility to make sure that the voices of the Southern Lakes riding are heard loud and clear in this House and in this government.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that was reinforced during my campaign was the diversity of the people in the riding. Opinions differed from neighbour to neighbour, street to street, and neighbourhood to neighbourhood. The Southern Lakes is a riding where individuals live. There can be strength in diversity, as we have seen in our caucus. However, diversity can also divide purpose. That seems to be why the riding is lacking in some of the amenities that are commonplace in other communities. It wasn’t that the area didn’t need a better road, a meeting place, or access to health care, or some other government responsibility. The needs existed; however, there wasn’t always a unity of purpose to organize a noisy campaign for it.

Mr. Speaker, when working for our communities, we need to respond to what is needed, not just to the loudest lobby group. It is now my responsibility to make sure that the needs of the Southern Lakes riding are met.

Mr. Speaker, as I’m a new member to the House, I’d like to take a few moments to tell this House a little about my background. I wasn’t born here in the Yukon. I was born in Renfrew, Ontario, a town outside Ottawa, but please don’t hold that against me. Ottawa’s a great place to be from. But I chose to move here and now proudly call it home. It’s a land that I love. It has been a land of great opportunity for me. I have met and married a wonderful lady, bought a log home in the country, got a big old dog and a pickup truck — pretty much the Yukon dream. I’ve worked on projects I have enjoyed and played in our wonderful backyard. I proudly call it home. It’s a place I’ve chosen to live.

Mr. Speaker, I have travelled across Canada many times and explored its wonderful beauty, and this is the best place. It has got the best people, the best lifestyle, and it had the best opportunities.

My education includes a diploma in business administration, a B.C. provincial instructor’s diploma, and in my spare time I’m currently completing a masters in business administration. My work experience includes owning and operating two businesses — a painting company and a consulting company. I have managed businesses and I have recently taught business planning courses at Dana Naye Ventures.

I am particularly proud of my experience at Dana Naye Ventures, where I had over a hundred new opportunities to work with them on building their business plan, launching it and working toward their control over their own economic destiny.

Mr. Speaker, I believe in education, I believe in business.

My work experience has also included being a geologist assistant, testing to make sure that gravel was made properly, selling computer systems and organizing events.

I’ve also been involved in many community activities, organizations such as the Marsh Lake Local Advisory Council, the Marsh Lake Community Club, Special Olympics, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Yukon Quest and the Storytelling Festival. The territory was a land of great opportunity for me when I moved here over 10 years ago. I showed up on a Friday, had a job interview on a Monday, started on a Tuesday. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be that same land of opportunity now.

I’m almost an anomaly, being a 20 to 40 year old living in the territory. I miss many of my friends who, unfortunately, have moved away. The statistics around the population demographic of 20 to 40 are scary. We’re losing our future.

Mr. Speaker, I was very excited to hear the Speech from the Throne last Thursday. It outlined the government’s vision for the future and how it will get there. I understand that it was criticized as being a re-hash of the party platform, but I take that to be high praise. The Yukon Party put forward an excellent platform, one that I took pride in, one that I proudly put my name on, and one that the Yukon people overwhelmingly supported.

As we work toward 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 balance between the economy and the environment, achieving a better quality of life, and practising government, we will build the Yukon to be a better place.

As I’m sure we can all agree, these are worthy initiatives.

As a rookie MLA and coming from the private sector, I was a neophyte when it came to being in government. So far I have recognized that it’s a very different culture than what I was used to. Some people have said in the past that government should behave more like a business, but I disagree with that. Yes, government should act in a businesslike manner but it cannot act as a business. Businesses are motivated by profit and have the ability to take risks. A business has the possibility of failing and going out of business; governments can’t do that. They can’t fail; they can’t go out of business. The community can’t afford to have — if I can pick on the Minister of Health’s department — the hospital go out of business and wait for a competitive business or hospital to come up and take its place. All of these structures have to continue to operate and continue to satisfy the needs of the people of the Yukon.

One of the important concepts that I’ve learned so far about government is the concept of trust. The electorate has trusted us to represent them and to govern responsibly. We, then, have to trust the talented staff to carry out our vision, and we all have to be accountable for our actions.

Mr. Speaker, I was originally frustrated when I found out that I couldn’t pick up the phone and phone a grader operator and find out why a road hadn’t been plowed. It’s what I would have done before. There is a problem, how do I solve it? Make a phone call — quick, easy, we’ll get to the bottom of that.

It makes sense why I can’t do that. We’re entrusted to govern, to present the vision, and then we pass that responsibility for carrying out the implementation of the vision on to others, on to our very talented public service. To interfere with the workings would cause the system to fall down. That’s why we’ve separated things like the Legislative Assembly, the judiciary and the police force.

Mr. Speaker, accountability is not something that can be achieved by filling out a form or preparing an annual report. Accountability is being responsible. It is living up to your promises and acting honestly. It is a state of mind; it is a way of behaving. Writing out a document cannot prove accountability; it can only be proved by actions.

We are all accountable to our constituents and to all Yukon people. I trust that the members opposite will alert us when we are failing to meet our commitments. As I was reminded earlier, they are the difference between a dictatorship and our current system.

I also trust that they will provide constructive solutions for the resolution of the problems.

Mr. Speaker, in preparing this response, I reviewed several responses to the throne speech made by past members of this Legislature, in particular Cynthia Tucker, Liberal Member for Mount Lorne, and NDP member Dave Keenan, Member for Southern Lakes-Ross River, and I’d like to pay tribute to my predecessors. They made up my riding before it was Southern Lakes.

I found their words meaningful, important and relevant to today, and I’d like to share them with you.

In Cynthia Tucker’s response, she said, "We, as members, would all do well to reflect on where we came from, where we are and where we are going. We have a broad range of backgrounds and personalities in the House and our effectiveness as the governing body will depend largely on how well we can work together. It is my hope that we, as the Legislature, can come to an agreement on the major issues that are or that will be facing us, and that decisions reached will be for the benefit of all Yukoners."

Mr. Dave Keenan, the past Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes said, "You have to think, you have to take your time, you have to understand what you talked about and you just can't pound the table. You can't pull a Nikita Khrushchev, take your shoe off and thump the table because there are 17 of us represented in this Legislature and, doggone it, everyone of us knows what the problems are, but we have to seek the solutions."

Mr. Speaker, despite being of a different political persuasion than I, they made some good points. I believe that we can all learn from their words. We are all different, we all know the problems, and together we need to work toward the solutions. A phrase I’ve heard recently was that we’re all arguing the same side of the coin. To a certain extent, that’s what we’re doing, arguing the same solution and getting into almost meaningless debate about minute peculiarities and differences of opinion. And I agree that it is important to have debate in order to flesh out an idea and make it stronger and make it better, but doggone it, if all we do is go around in circles worrying about minutiae, we’re not going to accomplish any of the objectives that we were set here to accomplish.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to implementing the ideas, projects and visions outlined in the throne speech, and I look forward to working with all Members of the Legislative Assembly. I trust that together we can make the Yukon a better place to live for us now and for the future.

Thank you.

Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to reply to the throne speech also, but before, like others, I would like to thank all those who have supported me during the election and have put their faith in me again for the third time to represent them throughout this mandate. There have been many, many volunteers during the campaign who have to be thanked. It’s a big riding, with many communities, and you have to have many organizations to be successful in an election. I know there are some ridings and some people in this House who can fully understand that, and I certainly would like to thank all those who put their time into making this successful for me. I’ll try my best to represent them again over the mandate of four years, or three-and-a-half years, or until the government calls an election.

Mr. Speaker, there was a lot said on the doorsteps during the election campaign, and I think the Yukon Party tried to reflect that in their throne speech. From what they heard — they thought that what they heard was reflected in their platform and I hope some of it gets carried out, because you probably will see a lot of similarities between platforms and certain sections in it. But sometimes it’s all about the wording and how it’s put together, and we’re certainly going to be scrutinizing that platform over the next four years, during this mandate, and we’re going to be holding government accountable for what they have promised to the public.

That shouldn’t be any surprise to government at all. But what might be a surprise to government is what they might have said or promised, or what they have promised, on the doorstep, and might have forgotten about. We’ll be bringing those up. This is a long sitting, and there’s plenty of time to do that. We’re going to have to pace ourselves to ensure that our constituents’ concerns are brought up and voiced in this Legislature.

I wanted to talk a little bit about my riding and the kind of things that were said on the doorstep. It’s a huge riding. It goes from close to Old Crow to about 25 miles south of Carmacks. Of course, there are not many people living north of Keno, or none at all — not in the winter, anyway — so basically my riding goes as far north as Keno and just south of Carmacks. What was raised at the doorsteps in all the communities — some were similar issues and some had more unique issues.

My riding has changed. I no longer have Little Salmon Lake as part of my riding. My riding used to butt right up against the Faro riding, but now that’s gone. Although I’m also a Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation member, and that’s part of my traditional territory, so I’m quite familiar with areas around that.

First of all, I think everybody thinks their riding is unique, and of course I feel the same way. I could say that my riding is the most beautiful place in the Yukon. Gary McRobb might argue with me on that, but many people do not see the entire Yukon. I heard members opposite talking about river trips and so on. Many people don’t see that when they come to the territory.

Many people don’t go off the highways to know what we have, this special place we call the Yukon. And my riding has many special places and very good people and very unique people. They are so vastly ranging in character and backgrounds and so on. I have the community of Carmacks that has a First Nation and a municipality that work together. The community of Mayo has a municipality and a First Nation that work together. Keno City is still a hamlet; it is a pretty small place. But for most of you who have been there, you can see the beauty that is there. Pelly Crossing, of course, is 90-plus percent aboriginal and has a First Nation; no municipality. It’s an unincorporated community that doesn’t have dollars flowing to it like other communities like Carmacks or Mayo. So they are always asking for government dollars and support for things like road improvements — and once in awhile we do see those, but what they would like to see, similar probably to Ross River, is some steady funding coming in so that they don’t have to keep going back to the books so that the community can build and thrive and be a healthier community for the people who live there and will not move from there.

Over the last two years I think I have seen the biggest migration of people out of my own community, the community of Carmacks. I think it dropped between 10 and 20 percent. That is unusual for that community because people stay there; they are not leaving. I think that what is happening is that there are a lot of young people who are growing up now, are in the workforce and are seeking education and it just isn’t there in the communities. We have a great campus. So do Mayo and Pelly have great campuses, but dollars just haven’t been flowing into the community campuses as they did in the past.

For government’s interest, the number one issue that was raised on the doorstep in my riding was education, followed closely by the economy. That might be of some interest to people — why it has been raised as a number one issue.

The training trust funds, for example, that were cut and no longer flowing like they did flow into the community campuses, put people to work. They got trained and some of them were guaranteed a job. Now, in this day and age, that’s hard to even think of — when you take a two-month or a three-month course and you’re guaranteed a job. Unfortunately, the jobs that were guaranteed were not in the Yukon, but that’s still the power of the training trust funds and what they could do. They got jobs in Alberta, in the oilfields, in the oil and gas industry, and I was pretty impressed with that. I believe the same thing is in some of the other communities like Pelly Crossing and Mayo, and I’m hoping that this government has some vision and looks a little closer at this issue and has some strength behind it to see it reflected in the upcoming budgets in the territory, because we all say that the economy is a big issue, and we need the trained workforce.

If we had a boom right now, we don’t have that trained, skilled workforce. We’ll have to be bringing other people in to do the jobs that we said Yukoners so desperately need.

I would also like to get back to that whole educational issue later on.

Over the past couple of years, the community of Mayo has expressed a desire to have a building to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the community. So far, we haven’t gotten a commitment, so I’m looking forward to that in the budget. I don’t think the Yukon Party would want to see something as important to this community disappear so quickly or not be taken care of by the Yukon Party.

If not, I’ll certainly be back in the community, asking questions in this House in regard to that, so whoever is responsible, be prepared.

The Village of Mayo has worked a long time on this, and I think this project should not be put aside simply because there was a project already built in the community — a school — and that’s kind of what they have been told are the reasons right now.

Similarly, with the other communities, like the community of Carmacks and Pelly Crossing. they’ve had buildings put into their communities that are beautiful, and I think it’s amazing to see what they can build with the amount of dollars they got to build it, like the arena in Pelly Crossing. I think that community, for example, did a heck of a job negotiating with the contractor, trying to find other dollars to make it an even better facility. For example, sometimes it just takes a letter to get dollars flowing. They wrote to Coca Cola, and Coca Cola donated a scoreboard for them. That’s worth about $5,000. That’s something that shows the power of the pen, but it also goes to show the organization of the community.

The community of Pelly Crossing, of course, has some beautiful facilities. They’ve got the curling rink there and the ball field, which I think is second to none in the Yukon. But the community of Carmacks is not there yet. They have a nice rec centre. They have a curling rink that was built with some problems, and it shows today. And they have a skating rink that has a roof over it. I know that the Yukon Party said that our recreation facilities are second to none in Canada but how many other communities have just an open rink and only one in their community? Obviously that is an issue that has been raised in that community. I know that the Village of Carmacks is working on it and they’re working with government. Hopefully we can see something successful in that area.

Youth programming has been another big issue that was raised. Of course, the whole issue of nurses and doctors has been raised as very much of a concern in all three communities. I know that Pelly, Mayo and Carmacks are grateful that there is a doctor who lives in Mayo and serves the three communities. That was a vast improvement to what they had in the past. But they still see the stress on the nurses who are there. Some of them are, of course, on-call 24 hours a day. They sometimes have to deal with many emergencies. I can remember one day in the community of Carmacks that a nurse had to deal with eight emergencies. The number is not high, but that is high if you’re dealing with many emergencies in one day. You can just imagine the stress load that is put on the nurses. I am hoping that this government will look at this carefully and will address these problems and not just say that, "Yes, we are going to go out and do our best to recruit nurses and doctors."

Another one, and I don’t mind sharing some of these with the Yukon Party — I won’t share them all, because I might have to ask a few questions in the House and catch the ministers off guard — but the one small industry that I think could use some government assistance is the trapping industry. Now we’ve gone to where it was almost dead in the Yukon; there were very few trappers. People still want to get out; they like the lifestyle; they’ve gone through the whole European Union deal. Now the Yukon is recognized as having humane trapping. We have a Yukon stamp. We have marketing here, but we still don’t have the ability to get the trappers out to the trapline. If government could take a closer look at that, I’m sure the trappers would certainly appreciate having assistance of some kind.

I might ask a question on that, so it would be good if someone thinks about that a bit.

Another big issue, especially with the three First Nations — Na Cho Nyak Dun, Selkirk and the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation — is land use planning. This is a very big issue because of the potential that is out there. There’s almost a threat to First Nations when there’s an announcement of the possibility of a pipeline going through and what could happen in their traditional territory. Just for those who don’t know, the First Nations negotiated land claims agreements, they agreed to give up a big portion of their traditional territory — not give up; they agreed to hold on to a small portion and agreed to share the rest with, of course, input into what development takes place in their traditional territory.

Now, the complicated areas, of course, are the overlaps, and that’s where we have a bit of a holdup with land use planning — it is in regard to the overlap. So, I guess, that’s a bit of a heads-up for this Yukon government.

Now, I’ll get into some of the throne speech. One thing that stands out in the throne speech is the fact that First Nations are mentioned there over and over again — work with them, be full partners in economic development, government-to-government relationships and so on. One thing I encourage every member on that side of the House to do is to pick up a final agreement and read it and know what’s in it, because I might ask you a question on it too, and hopefully we’ll get some answers in this House.

I can remember being on the government side — this was after the Yukon Party was in government and signed off the agreements. A question was asked, and the member — I think it was the Member for Porter Creek North at the time — said that what they were going to do was dust off this land claims agreement and have a look at it. Well, they signed it off and if you’re asking questions in the House, at least know what is in the agreement. It’s very complicated for anybody to really understand it, including the negotiators. So at least we should have some broad understanding of the final agreements — know what the UFA is and the final agreements.

If you don’t know, pick it up — pick it up and read it because you don’t want to draw a blank when there is a discussion taking place in regard to the final agreements.

Speaker: Order please. Can I ask the member to address the Chair as opposed to using "you"?

Mr. Fairclough: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will try to remember that. It’s hard to do it sometimes and I apologize for that. I’m sure that many people will be making that same mistake.

Another thing, also in here, talks about the conclusion of land claims. It’s not a YTG function to conclude. The process is in the hands of the First Nation; they’ve got to understand that. They are the ones who are going to ratify them. I know that in the throne speech here that the government will, if requested by the First Nation, provide assistance in ratification. Well, what else are you going to say — that the government won’t? It is only common sense that government does that because there are technical people who provide information — maybe it’s in mapping and so on and could be used for clarification and so on for some of the public. It gets all messy — what was really negotiated and what wasn’t, particularly with the maps and special management areas and so on. People want to be very clear on this.

The Yukon Party is going to rebuild the economy. We’ve heard this one before; it’s not new. It has to be said. You have to make a bullet, make it a priority. I agree. Somehow we’ve got to get things up and going and people back to the territory.

I don’t believe that land claims were prohibiting any development from taking place. That might be a Yukon Party position, but it’s certainly not what I see. We have had agreements in place for about eight years. We have First Nations with recognized mines on their land selection. The Minto mine, for example, is on Selkirk First Nation settlement land. Now, of course, that has worked its way through the system for awhile now. People are promoting it and trying to get investors for this development and it still hasn’t happened. I think people really need to recognize that we are still feeling the effects of Bre-X. That had a huge effect on the Yukon.

Those who have money and are investing money want to make money, and they are not going to want to invest in an operation or industry that seems to be falling apart. We have seen the investors take their money and put it into high-tech, where they are getting a return. It’s hard to steer them back. And the price of gold may do something. I realize the regulations and the time it takes to get a water licence, for example, are really deterrents for people looking to develop in the Yukon. I think that’s where we need to make the improvements. It’s not so much what is in the regulations as the amount of time it takes to develop.

The second bullet the Yukon Party has is completing and implementing land claims. Well, I would really like to see what the Yukon Party’s version or vision or workplan to implement land claims is. I know the federal government has a huge responsibility, and I hope the Yukon government just doesn’t cut in — basically, we all lose when that happens — but assists the federal government to live up to its obligations under the final agreements.

I strongly believe that because the agreements are good agreements — not so good when it comes to the dollars, but what’s in them, the programming and so on — that the federal government had been stalling on really implementing these agreements to their fullest. Of course, the First Nations are working their way up, trying to develop their own governments. It’s a tough job to do, to get people educated and in positions where they can run a successful government in their own way.

So rebuilding the economy, completing and implementing land claims is nothing new. Formalizing government-to-government relationships, well, that’s nothing new, either. So we have the first three bullets that other governments and parties have basically put forward and proposed. Making First Nations full partners in economic development of the territory — that wording itself, I would say, is a new initiative, and we’ll be looking at that very carefully.

The Yukon Party says they’re going to respect and be open and accountable to working with other governments. One thing I was disappointed with in the throne speech is that it really makes no mention of municipalities at all, and they certainly play a role in the territory. I was quite surprised that no emphasis was put on the importance of municipalities in this territory. We on this side of the House will be watching very carefully and making sure that the Yukon Party government does not back away from being a partner in economic development or promoting it. I know that they have qualifiers, Mr. Speaker, in their commitment in economic development with First Nations, saying only if this is the objective that we’re moving toward, reducing barriers and so on. Sometimes that’s not always the case, and sometimes the First Nations do things a bit differently from YTG, and I don’t think that the Yukon government should be trying to assimilate the First Nations or for them to have the same objectives in economic development as the Yukon government.

For example, how are they going to work with Old Crow? They have 3,000 square miles of category A land, which means they have the subsurface rights. Old Crow selected the lands for protection against development, and that’s their main focus right now. All First Nations haven’t done the same thing. In the southeast Yukon, most of their land selections are for economic development reasons. Now, there are special management areas for the protection of sensitive and heritage and cultural areas, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s their right to negotiate in that manner. It’s all approved by the people, but we have vast differences between First Nations, and I’m hoping that this just doesn’t fall apart or that there are such strict conditions on what the Yukon Party means by partners in economic development that it really doesn’t happen.

I can tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, that the government-to-government relationships are not fully working. There’s an attempt — take the Northern Tutchone Council, for example, which offered to be partners when it came to youth programs. Do you know what happened? The Yukon government turned them down. There was more confrontation than anything else, and this is only recently. So if the elected members didn’t know, they should know now. People are not happy.

Implementing and improving devolution — I think devolution is going to happen. Programs will be devolved, despite what the Member for Klondike said when he was in opposition. It appeared that he did not like devolution at all. It wasn’t something that he wanted to go ahead with, unless certain things were attached to it. So far, I don’t see any changes taking place. We’ll have devolution; it’ll be good for the Yukon; we’ll be able to make the decisions, not Ottawa. We can implement policies but, also, for the Yukon Party government to think that there’s going to be a vast change immediately, I think that would be misleading Yukoners down that road. I know the federal policies remain until such time as the Yukon government changes them.

Now, I’m very interested in what the proper balance is on the Yukon Party side between the environment and the economy. So far, what I’ve heard is mining, mining, mining, that we need to get that up and going. I haven’t heard much at all on the environment side. Maybe we need some safe drinking water.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Fairclough: And we have trees growing — so? But if the Yukon Party is true to their word and what they follow, this is how it would go. The Member for Watson Lake knows this well: log it, mine it, drill it, pave it and protect it. That’s the balance. Those words you will hear over and over again, too.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Mr. Fairclough: That came from the mouth of the Member for Watson Lake.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Order please.

Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Throughout this sitting we will be going through this throne speech; we’ll be going through the budget speech and we’ll be scrutinizing it very carefully and bringing out points, the way in which the words are put on paper, and bringing it forward to the general public.

This Yukon Party government wants to practise good government. They want to improve things. They want to consult with people. They want to collaborate. They want to build consensus. They want to compromise and they say they don’t want to be confrontational or take any unilateral action. On October 4, 2002, that’s what the leader of the Yukon Party said.

So far, we haven’t seen that. The Minister of Health is on his own, doesn’t even talk to the backbenchers about what his decisions are or where he’s going, and is breaking the promises that they’ve made.

We’re starting to see the government now blaming other people — the previous government, the government before, departmental people. I thought we were going to see a new and improved government. What happened? There’s a big difference in the Member for Klondike from when he was in opposition and now that he’s in government. The change is tremendous. Certainly he knew it all when he was in opposition. He knew what to do, and when he got into the authority of making decisions as a minister, we see something different. The most respected people in our society are our seniors and our elders. Of course, our youth are our future and we should not be putting them aside. But our seniors and elders have served their time in the Yukon. They have carved and built the Yukon the way it is, and then what do we see? Well, this is a form of consultation that the Yukon Party has adopted. They will consult on major decisions that affect people. They’ll consult with them. Well, the Minister of Health puts out a press release saying that we have informed the residents of Macaulay Lodge this morning that they will be moving up to Copper Ridge. That was his consultation process. He didn’t tell any of the backbenchers, because I guess at the time it wasn’t important, or backbenchers weren’t important per se.

I think we might see a lot of this from that minister. I know the backbenchers will feel it, if they’re not feeling it already.

At the time, and I raise this today again, it was about a building that was falling apart. We had to move them out so we could bulldoze this right away before the end of the fiscal year so we could start building another building. It wasn’t about the level 1 and 2 care as the minister said. If it was, why did he propose to move level 1 and 2 care up to a facility that was built for levels 3, 4 and 5? It didn’t make sense. It was backtracking already — made a mistake and wouldn’t admit it.

I see that the Yukon Party is certainly proud of the amount of money that went into the community development fund and fire smart, something that was introduced by the NDP government, and it was introduced by a previous NDP government — the community development fund was — and killed by the Yukon Party, and the NDP had to bring it back to life, and it’s a good thing. I’m glad it had the strength to live through the Liberal Party and now the Yukon Party, and I would like to see that enhanced because the community development fund takes care of community priorities and organizations’ priorities, and they’re wide-ranging, from simple things — like maybe a computer for the library — or physical buildings or programming in place. We’ve even seen community development fund money go to the snow-making machine up at Mount Sima.

Everybody benefits from it. A lot of money does come here in Whitehorse, and I’m surprised that a lot of these projects that have been proposed have not been funded to date, and that the monies weren’t spent.

And we on this side of the House were hoping that the fire smart and community development fund monies that were introduced after the election would put people to work during the winter. This hasn’t happened, people are still leaving, and sometime we have to hit the point where people are coming back to the Yukon. I know that sometimes the Yukon population is very transient, too. I’ve read somewhere in an article, and this sounds weird, but over a 10-year period there are 30,000 people who leave the Yukon and come back and leave the Yukon. So every 10 years we see quite a turnover here in the territory, and we need to attract the people back to the territory. We can’t have our communities shrinking. Many of our rural community members are moving to Whitehorse. There are jobs, there is housing — more jobs than are offered in the communities.

Mr. Speaker, there is not much time left to respond to the throne speech. I would love to have gone through all of it. I’ve basically hit the first few pages, and maybe sometime during the budget speech I’ll be able to pick up on some that I have left off.

The throne speech is supposed to be a position put out by a government to show the public that this is where they’re going over a four-year period and that governments of the day stand by their own throne speeches.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker’s statement

Speaker: Order please. The Chair is not entirely comfortable with some of the terminology that is coming forth — "killed" — and also some of the chatter that is coming from the other side of the floor. So when members are speaking on one side, I would appreciate that we keep the chatter down on the other side and watch our adverbs if you would, please.

Hon. Ms. Taylor: It is indeed my privilege and honour to be here with you all this afternoon and to respond to the Speech from the Throne. Before I begin with my words, I would just like to begin by expressing my many thanks to the people of Whitehorse West for all their support and for placing their trust in me as their representative in this Legislature.

I’d also like to thank my family for their continued support over the years, for their words of encouragement and for all their help along the way. To those who stood beside me throughout the election and to those who put their personal interests aside for the greater good of the territory, my heartfelt thanks.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate and recognize all the members in this Legislature and to offer my personal thanks to all of them for putting their names forward, seeking office and for their election. Serving the public is certainly not always an easy task, as I am soon realizing. It is, however, a privilege and should be treated as such.

As elected representatives, it is our job to act responsibly and to do the best things to make the best decisions for the better good of all Yukoners.

As challenging as the road may be, however, individuals who are elected to govern are to be commended for all their work and personal dedication.

Similarly, I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank all those individuals who put their names forward for election. Those who were not successful, but put their names forward — it indeed takes a lot of courage to do that, and it certainly takes a lot of sweat equity throughout the 30-day campaign period, and I commend everyone for that.

Throughout the Speech from the Throne there is continual reference to the economy — the need to generate jobs for Yukoners and the need to create certainty that will attract investment to the territory. Certainly, going door to door in Whitehorse West during the election, the economy was clearly the number one priority of all Yukoners. And little wonder, with record high unemployment, record low levels of exploration and development, and Yukoners leaving the territory to find work elsewhere.

I just look at the younger population who are leaving, and those are the ones who are leaving in droves, and particularly those aged anywhere from 19 through to 35, those individuals who have families. It’s very unfortunate to lose that youth because the youth are our future, and that’s something we have to draw upon.

As the throne speech states, our government is taking what it calls a "team Yukon" approach to governance in the territory in order to create a positive investor climate. Only through working in collaboration with First Nations, business, industry and Yukoners at large will this territory fully realize its true potential. And the Yukon does indeed have tremendous potential. The challenge, however, is finding the ability to realize what we have.

One of the most positive initiatives, I feel, that this government has taken so far is the move to create a stand-alone Department of Tourism and Culture, as well as a stand-alone Department of Economic Development. Both of these initiatives were very well-received by industry as a positive indicator of the value this government places upon these two industries — tourism and business development — as economic engines in the Yukon.

As I’ve said from time to time over the last few months, it’s business that creates jobs, not government, and we must not lose sight of that. It is government’s role, however, to create a climate that is conducive to the growth of the private sector, and we must work to do so, and this government is committed to doing so.

This leads me to the next topic, that being partnerships. In times of economic constraints, the presence of partnerships, whether it be with the federal government or Yukon First Nations, municipal governments or industry, partnerships become even more important. Through the creation of partnerships, more resources are able to be leveraged, efficiencies realized and product delivered. The most recent example of a partnership struck is that of the partnership between Holland America and Kluane National Park to provide guided tours through the park — this was announced last week. Partnerships with such entities as General Motors, Fulda, have proven to benefit the Yukon through leveraging X number of dollars in free advertising and X number of dollars in local spending in turn.

Our government wishes to certainly work closely with Yukon First Nations to develop and promote the many opportunities open to us in areas such as arts and culture. These are very significant opportunities, as well as demands to be realized in the development of First Nation products. Again, this government supports partnerships and is very eager to find more.

By and large, the area of tourism has been one of the few bright shining lights on the economic horizon. Despite the downturn in the resource sector over the recent years, tourism has been able to outperform its counterparts in other jurisdictions. Whether it’s our golden past or pristine wilderness, our people or just our friendly northern hospitality, Yukon remains a destination of choice for many.

That being said, it’s very important that we work toward having quality attractions and quality products that will encourage visitors to stay another day, spend more time in the Yukon and make Yukon the ultimate destination.

We need to do that and can do so by capitalizing on our strengths, those being just that: our golden past, Yukon First Nations, culture and our pristine wilderness. Our government believes in our cultural and heritage resources and recognizes the value they all bring to the health of the economy.

Our government is committed to diversifying the economy through the development of cultural industries such as film, sound recording, and information technology. Together they make up one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the country and a leading source for new employment. When we look at Yukon’s sound recording industry, for example, the Yukon is clearly storming the country and the world at present. Currently, we have the highest per capita album production rate in Canada and the highest acceptance rate in Canada for national funding sources. According to RIA, retail sales by Yukon artists in the coming year will exceed something to the tune of $3 million. That certainly is not bad for a territory of 30,000 people. Clearly, we have a wealth of undeveloped talent. Again, whether it’s our wilderness, our heritage, our communities, our culture, or our people, we have a lot to offer and we continue to draw the attention of the world.

Yet another cultural industry that continues to flourish is that of film. Since elected, I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with many members of the Yukon film industry, including independent producers, film artists and production film people. The quality of productions being produced in the Yukon is not only impressive but is growing.

Diversifying the economy is a priority of this government, and I believe film is doing just that. Members will recall the Klondike Quest for Gold production, which was recently aired on the Discovery channel. This production was shot in the Yukon last summer and involved a production crew of 17 plus Yukon residents.

I suppose what impressed me perhaps the most was the quality and the talent and humour that emanated throughout the production. Ice World, yet another production that was shot in November 2001, will also air on the Discovery Channel in March — I encourage you all to tune in at that time. This production created 44 jobs in the film industry here during the 15 days of filming. Next week, another production will be taking off involving 30 Koreans and 10 Canadians outside of the Yukon and up to 30 Yukoners.

Mr. Speaker, I could really go on and on but I believe you’re all getting the picture.

Last month I also had an opportunity to attend the opening of the Yukon film festival. Having a major award-winning northern film producer such as Zacharias Kunuk touring the Yukon with his work was not only inspiring but a testament to the thriving film industry in the territory. In December I also attended the NFVIA — Northern Film and Video Industry Association — AGM at which I had the opportunity to again meet more players in the film industry.

Film employs Yukoners, and this government is certainly willing to look at the options for building an even stronger film industry.

Air access, domestic and international — another area within our domain of tourism and culture — is yet another area of importance to the Government of Yukon. Currently we have two airlines providing year-round access to our major gateway cities to the south. What we need to do is ensure that we have both of these airlines in continued operation for years to come for the very purpose of having affordable, not only accessible, airline access to our major markets.

In light of 9/11 and global events that have transpired since, air access is certainly an area of concern worldwide and one that we must not lose sight of. Our government is committed to working with both airlines and will continue to work toward enhanced air access to both our international markets.

Yet another growing industry is that of convention incentive travel. This month alone, there are something like three major conventions to hit the City of Whitehorse, which have been either assisted or won due to the efforts of our Yukon Convention Bureau.

Bar none, Yukon is becoming a destination of choice for Yukoners, whether it is through business, whether it is for pleasure, whether it is just to live here.

Without a doubt, our government is fully supportive of the visitor industry and is looking very forward to the many exciting prospects ahead.

As the member across the way alluded to earlier, Mayo is indeed celebrating its 100th anniversary. A hundred years is certainly a long time and is well worth a celebration. I’m certainly very familiar with this community, as I am with many of the people who reside there. I recognize their hard work and efforts to date in putting together these exciting celebrations, and I certainly look forward to taking part in all of them. Having said that, I invite all members in this Assembly to join with me this summer in helping to commemorate this very good time.

I know the people of Mayo have been very busy planning for the birthday celebration, which includes a month-long roster of exciting events, including the Midnight Mayo Marathon — in which I know, Mr. Speaker, you will be taking part, as I will — hikes along Mount Haldane, the Keno Hill signpost party, Canada Day celebrations and so forth. Again, I hope all members have an opportunity to take part in some of these great festivities.

Just on that note, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun made reference to this government not having the opportunity or not being willing to support some of these initiatives, and I am very pleased to let you know that we have, through Project Yukon and through the arts fund. We are supporting these celebrations. These are very important, and we are very pleased to be able to assist in that regard.

One of the other key priorities and part of my mandate that falls within my area is justice. Certainly a key priority, as outlined in our election, was that of the commitment to formalize government-to-government relations with Yukon First Nations based on mutual respect, collaboration and compromise where needed, better operation of all governments in the territory with the objective of reducing barriers and providing basically more cost-effective services for all Yukoners.

It’s the view of this government that justice should be one of the main pillars of a government-to-government relationship with the Yukon First Nations. Corrections, particularly in the wish to move toward more effective rehabilitation, opportunities for decentralization and away from incarceration are certainly some of the priorities that we wish to address through our mandate. Clearly, that is the preferred approach of this government and that of pursuing mutually satisfactory arrangements with self-governing First Nations that will help enable us to achieve these objectives.

The very fact that Yukon has one of, if not the highest recidivism rates in the country leads all of us to believe that there is a problem with the administration of justice in the territory today. The very fact that a very high percentage, something to the tune of 80 percent, of the clients in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is that of First Nation ancestry tells us that Yukon First Nations have a very large stake in the administration of justice in the territory and should, therefore, take a very active role in administering justice.

What we’ve heard, and what appears to make the most sense, is to make Yukon First Nations full partners in the delivery of corrections in the territory. The MOU provision for First Nation economic opportunity in connection with the new Whitehorse Correctional Centre reflects the spirit of the Kwanlin Dun final agreement and is yet another example of our overall approach to justice.

It certainly is a bold step, but a step in the right direction. We’re committed, as a government, to focusing on a program delivery approach to corrections with the end goal of reducing the number of returning repeat offenders to the present-day facility.

As I’ve said from time to time, just building a larger facility to house the average inmate population without looking at meaningful program options for a replacement jail would be irresponsible and a misuse of taxpayers’ money.

Again, we have only to gain by involving Yukon First Nations in the delivery of justice.

Contrary to what the opposition may espouse, this government does care about social issues and does make social issues a priority. Child care certainly was another priority that was identified at the doorstep during the election.

Education — preparing our young people for the very large challenges ahead — is another priority of this government. Whether it be through apprenticeship programs, offering teacher training programs to all Yukoners — certainly, these are things that are investments, and they will reap benefits.

Seniors and elders are certainly very integral components of our communities, and we do respect who they are and where they’re coming from. We certainly wish to address the senior population in our communities, as well as in the City of Whitehorse. Having been born and raised in Watson Lake, I’m very familiar with rural life. As I mentioned before, I certainly have spent a fair amount of time in the Village of Mayo and outside, and in the Silver Trail region. I’m very familiar with the challenges associated with living in rural Yukon and not necessarily having all the amenities and facilities that are available here in this city. That is something we would like to address.

Currently, as is the case when seniors find themselves in a situation where they’re not able to care for themselves, they are finding themselves having to come to Whitehorse. I can even recall an elder who was sent from Watson Lake to the City of Dawson. That was somewhat unacceptable. These people have contributed to our communities and play a very important role, and we would like them to remain doing so.

Something else we will be looking at is enhancing and improving upon health care services and social services within our communities.

The devolution — I’ll just speak a few minutes about devolution, because it was an issue that I certainly had a few words to say about during the election and before. Our government has always been of the opinion that we have always been supportive. We have always said yes to devolution. The transfer of responsibility for our lands and resources to the Yukon is nothing but a good thing. On the same hand, we had raised a number of concerns consistently with respect to simply transferring the management of lands and resources versus the ownership, and we still remain of that opinion. We will be looking at various options when devolution does come through, and down the road we will be seeking a court ruling through the Constitutional Questions Act on that very issue — I refer to Crown in right of Yukon.

Throughout the election, a number of constituents raised concerns about coming over to the territorial government, not knowing where they were going, not knowing what was happening to their benefits, not knowing where their classification stood. These still remain of concern and these are issues that we had made the commitment to identify and work with each employee who appeared to be adversely affected, and we remain of that opinion.

Devolution, though, I think is, by and large, a great opportunity. It’s going to help us realize the efficiencies within the permitting system or regulatory regime. It will help, I hope and anticipate, through responsible measures, by being able to attract investment to the territory. People will have some certainty when they inquire about getting a property underway.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to go back to tourism here, and I go back to partnerships. I forgot to mention that the members opposite were just taking issue with the members of our government for perhaps not partnering enough, not collaborating enough, not working with industry and Yukoners, and I think that’s to the contrary. I just referred to a news release that the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon just released. It has to do with some initiatives that our government, and particularly the Department of Tourism and Culture, will be spearheading over the course of its mandate, taking steps to look at the various alternate models of marketing here in the territory, taking steps to develop and implement a Yukon-brand marketing strategy, taking steps to allocate new resources to a full-time permanent position that’s solely designated to product development, including industry in identifying priorities where dollars should be spent with respect to marketing. Of course also coming through is our election platform commitment of establishing a stand-alone Department of Tourism and Culture.

These are all initiatives that have been applauded by industry, and I just want to quote one line of this news release, if I may. It’s from the president of TIA, and she states, "This is a tremendous success for TIA Yukon in our advocacy efforts. We also need to extend sincere thanks and accolades to the minister and her government in taking the leadership and having the vision to work in partnership and collaboration with industry."

Actions speak louder than words, and I know we’re all very good at espousing words, but actions and product at the end of the day is where it counts, and this is product. We certainly are committed to working with industry and want to see product. There’s no need for us to go on and on about what we would like to do and what we see as opportunities. It’s another thing putting your money where your mouth is, and delivering on your promises.

Just looking around the room today, certainly on this side, we have a very good mix of individuals sitting around the table. We’re all very dedicated to serving the interests of Yukoners — all Yukoners. At the end of the day, we want to see the economy get off the ground. That’s the number one reason we were elected, I believe, and a lot of people are counting on us. Even though we have just been in this position for three months — as of today if I’m not mistaken — I believe that we have accomplished quite a bit in a short time. We are working on many exciting venues and initiatives, and we will continue to do so.

I just want to sum up by thanking everyone again for this opportunity and, again, for the privilege of being here this afternoon to be able to respond to the Speech from the Throne. I look forward to hearing the rest of the responses and working with all of you, based on collaboration and compromise.

Thank you.

Hon. Mr. Lang: It is quite an honour to be standing here giving a reply to the Speech from the Throne. I have been a long-time Yukoner. I grew up in the Yukon. There are not many communities that I haven’t been involved with, either from growing up in the Yukon or in business in the Yukon. So I come with an insight into the communities and am also able to look at the City of Whitehorse and see what a monster it can become if the outlying areas aren’t represented in a proper fashion.

I look around this side of the House, and I see young people, I see old people like myself, and I see a cross-section of the work force. It’s going to bode well for the Yukon to have this kind of government in place — solid majority — with the help of the opposition to make the Yukon economy go forward.

It’s going to take all of us, and the economy is very important to the Yukon. As devolution comes along, we have to be more astute and manage our affairs. We can no longer blame Northern Affairs for our problems. We’re going to have the problems, and we’re going to have to solve the problems, so it’s up to us — all Yukoners — whether it’s on the opposition side or on government side, to work together to make sure we have a viable territory for our children in the future.

With that, I would like to first of all take this opportunity to thank the people of Porter Creek Centre for their support. I trust I will represent their concerns and issues in a manner that they would approve of. That’s very important, and it’s very important to the Lang family, because we have been a part of Porter Creek for probably 50 years. Being one of the oldest subdivisions in Whitehorse, it has been a very important part of the Whitehorse growth in the past.

Mr. Speaker, I alone cannot take credit for getting elected to represent Porter Creek Centre. There are many people who supported and worked on my campaign tirelessly, and I would like to salute them today. Many of us here in this Legislature are here because of the efforts of our campaign workers and their belief in us and, to them, I would like to say a special thanks — a special thank you to those campaign workers today. The support I received from many of my ex-Watson Lake friends and supporters is greatly appreciated. Without my Watson Lake connection, expatriates from Watson Lake, it would have been a tough struggle.

So again, I appreciate my support from Watson Lake. And of course, Mr. Speaker, without the support of my family, and particularly my wife, Karen, my sons Graham and Fraser and daughter Meagan, I would not be here today.

To give you a little history on the Lang family — the Lang family history in Canadian politics goes back quite a ways. My great-grandfather, Dan Lang, was a councillor and a reeve of Alvin County township in Ontario in the late 1800s and 1900s. His son, Hector Lang — my grandfather — was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta between 1928 and 1935. Also, he was Mayor of Medicine Hat between the years of 1936 and the year he died in 1951. His brother, Malcolm Lang, was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the Cochrane district and also a Member of Parliament for Ontario. Malcolm was instrumental in the starting of the Haileybury School of Mines, a world-class technical school for mining in Ontario. His nephew, Dan Lang, was a long-time Liberal senator for Ontario for the Dominion of Canada. My twin brother, Dan — a lot of Dans — served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Porter Creek-Crestview between 1974 and 1992, Mr. Speaker. Dan was elected to the Yukon government at a very interesting time. At that time, the Commissioner was involved in the day-to-day activities and decisions of the Yukon government and the MLAs served as an advisory board to the Commissioner. As well, a document entitled Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow had just been tabled with the federal minister in 1973.

The format of the Yukon government changed dramatically in 1976 when the powers of the Commissioner changed. The termination of the Commissioner’s participation in the day-to-day operation of the government had resulted in the style of government that we see today, with executive responsibility being assumed by elected representatives of the local population.

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that, almost 30 years later, I have been elected to represent the people of Porter Creek Centre in a similar manner to my brother. I am also entering the government during a time of change.

Devolution, which will bestow upon the Yukon significant power to manage its own resources, will take place on April 1 of this year, less than a month away. As a lifelong Yukoner, I am excited about devolution and the role it will play in turning around the Yukon’s economy. As the minister responsible for the Energy, Mines and Resources portfolio, I also realize that we will be responsible for implementing many of the aspects of devolution.

As noted in the Speech from the Throne, devolution will allow our government to manage and develop the territory’s resources well for the benefit of all Yukon people, both now and in the future. Mr. Speaker, devolution will allow our 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.

The Department of Energy, Mines and Resources will take on the bulk of Northern Affairs programs. The largest amount of employees coming from the federal government will come to that department. This includes the regulatory and management responsibility for forestry, lands and minerals. We are working very hard to make the transition as smooth as possible for Yukon people. Mr. Speaker, the transfer of responsibility for water, land, forests and mineral management means the Yukon will now have the tools needed to achieve certainty for the resource industries.

I am looking forward to the devolution of these responsibilities as it will lead to positive economic opportunities for Yukon people.

For the most part, it will be business as usual after April 1. While clients will deal with the same people, often in the same office, Energy, Mines and Resources is making some changes, upon devolution, to improve client relations and services. An example of one of these changes includes the creation of an integrated lands counter that will serve the agriculture and combines former federal lands with Yukon Territory lands. We trust that this approach will improve the land services we provide to Yukoners.

Mr. Speaker, the geological programs and services offered by the federal and territorial government have been integrated for over 10 years and have served as a model for consolidation of other programs. Newly named the Yukon geological survey, its focus on mineral exploration and development will be enhanced by devolution to include baseline geoscience information in support of oil and gas exploration and development. The Yukon geological survey will also provide a broader range of information to Yukon First Nations, schools and the general public. Through mirror legislation, the laws now in place and administered by the federal government will simply continue in their present form but as territorial laws. Energy, Mines and Resources will administer three of the acts related to devolution: the Yukon Placer Mining Act, the Yukon Quartz Mining Act, and portions of the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act.

The Speech from the Throne also noted that achieving a proper balance between the economy and the environment is one of the priorities of this government. In this regard, I am happy to report that a mutually beneficial relationship has already been established between the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources and the Department of Environment. I am looking forward to working closely with Minister Jim Kenyon to ensure the balance between economy and environment is present.

Mr. Speaker, as noted previously, my brother Dan was elected at a time when First Nations presented their land claim, Together Today for Our Children Tomorrow, to the Government of Canada. As noted in the Speech from the Throne, our government is making completion and implementation of land claims a priority. Not only will this provide certainty for First Nations, it will also provide certainty for all Yukoners. I’m looking forward to being part of that process.

All members of the Yukon Party recognize the importance of settling land claims and formalizing government-to-government relationships with First Nations. As I campaigned from door to door, concerns were expressed about turning around the economy, the implementation of devolution, settling First Nation land claims, as well as health and social issues.

As noted in the Speech from the Throne, the Yukon government is interested in working together for a better future. This includes establishing priorities such as rebuilding the economy, completing and implementing land claims, formalizing government-to-government relations with the 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, and also practising good government.

Mr. Speaker, many of these priorities I have discussed previously in the presentation. The key to making these priorities work is the cross-section of members of the Yukon Party government and their support staff. It was the goal of the Yukon Party to ensure that the staff hired to support the elected officials have experience that will be beneficial to their departments and to the government.

Many of the Yukon Party officials and support staff are lifelong Yukoners who believe in the Yukon and wish to make it a better place.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Cardiff: It’s my pleasure, after having been elected for four months, to finally be able to rise in this Legislature and address the Assembly and give a response to the Speech from the Throne.

First of all, I’d like to thank my constituents for granting me the honour of representing them in this House, and I’d like to thank my family and friends, and the supporters who provided me their assistance and their counsel during and since the election.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone in the House on their successful election to the Legislature here, and I look forward to working with everyone for a better future for all of Yukon.

In 1976 when I arrived here, I was even more fortunate than the Member for Southern Lakes, because I got off the airplane at about 4:30 in the afternoon, went and had supper, and I started work at 7:00 the same evening. So, you’re right — the economy definitely needs to be addressed. It was a time when there was lots of work and it was an opportunity for me to begin to learn new things. That’s how I got involved in working in the construction industry and in trades.

But in 1976, I never would have imagined that I would be standing here today. It was just something I would never have believed. To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how long I was even going to live in the Yukon, let alone that I would be doing something like this.

But it was my involvement in the community and I think — going back to even before I moved here — my involvement in the community when I lived in Powell River — I was involved with the flying club in Powell River — that taught me a lot about working together and about public service. It’s that type of work and the work I have been involved in since I moved to the Yukon that has led me to where I am today. It is working with community groups and with unions that represented the workers in my place of work here in the Yukon that has helped me and made me realize that there is a positive role that people can play in the development of their community and the development of this place we call the Yukon.

Construction workers taught me a lot. You have to work alongside many people who have many different points of view. We don’t always agree, but at the end of the day the project has to be built and it has to be suitable for people to occupy, not unlike where we live and what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to build a better future for the Yukon, for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren, and I think my grounding in the labour movement has served me well in that area also, because you have to work with other people. You have to work with contractors and sit across the table and negotiate fair wages, fair working conditions. So I think those types of endeavours will help me in my endeavours here.

The fact that I worked for contractors who had signed collective agreements and provided good wages and good working conditions and benefits, allowed me to raise my family with dignity and help provide education for my children. I think that it’s kind of nice to know that, today, we’re actually standing in a building that was built by a union contractor, and we know the workers who built this building received good wages, good benefits and were the beneficiaries of safe working conditions.

I think that kind of ties in to some extent with my role as critic for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. I think that my experience over 25 years of working in the construction industry has made me realize how important it is that workers have that type of protection, that they know there is something in place that encourages employers to have a safe workplace, where they don’t have any fear of being injured and, if they are injured, there is some sort of benefit that will provide for them and their family and their future. It may be on a short-term basis, if it’s just a time-loss injury, or it may only be that you had to go to the hospital and get stitched up and could go back to work, but there is a plan in place that pays for the medical coverage that’s needed, and there is some support, if it’s a time-loss injury or in the event of something that we don’t like to see in the construction industry, but which has happened, and has happened on jobsites where people were injured seriously and suffered permanent disabilities, and I’ve even worked on job sites where people have lost their lives.

I’d like to talk a little bit about my constituency and where I live. The constituency of Mount Lorne is comprised of a mix of properties. It’s mostly country residential and rural residential type properties and subdivisions that most of you would know — Wolf Creek, Mary Lake, Spruce Hill, Cowley Creek phase 1 and 2, the Golden Horn subdivision by the Carcross cutoff and the surrounding area there. As well, I have constituents on Gentian Lane, which is largely made up of people who have more agricultural types of endeavours, and then down the Alaska Highway almost to the Yukon River bridge by the control dam, down the Annie Lake Road almost to Lewes Lake and the Annie Lake Road, as well.

It’s not quite as onerous for me as it is for the Member for Mayo-Tatchun or some of the other members of this House to travel throughout their constituency, but it’s still fairly large. I had the opportunity — I don’t know that I could say that I met every constituent during the election, but I made a valiant effort, I think, and covered a lot of territory.

So, as I said, there is a mix of country residential, rural residential, commercial development, agricultural endeavours, and there is even some light industrial use.

It provides residents with many opportunities for recreation. I could also say that there are some very beautiful areas in Mount Lorne. I know the Annie Lake area is one that really sticks out in my mind as a beautiful, beautiful area. This area provides many opportunities for recreation, but it also provides many opportunities for home-based businesses and the establishment of a diverse economy. One of the priorities in the throne speech, Mr. Speaker, is the commitment of this government to rebuild the economy. I think that Mount Lorne is one of the best examples of a diverse economy. In my travels during the election, I was actually amazed at how many different home-based businesses and endeavours there were in that riding. It’s home to architects. It’s home to book publishers and craftspeople. There are sawmills. There are metal recyclers. There are plant nurseries. There are vegetable producers, livestock and wilderness tourism operators. There are people who are involved in fish farming endeavours. That is only naming a few.

I think that the residents of Mount Lorne want to play a role in a vibrant, mixed economy here in the Yukon, instead of the boom and the bust that we’ve seen in the past. I’ve been involved in that in the construction industry over my 25 years here. We’ve seen next to no work, and then we seem to be flooded with work and, the next thing you know, we have pickup trucks rolling into town and people are here to work for the short term, but they always seem to go home. I think we don’t want to see that. We want to see an economy that’s going to benefit our children and our grandchildren, something that’s going to be here for years and years to come.

One of the other things that my constituents have told me is that they recognize the need to implement land claims and to move forward together in all aspects of our growth as a territory. I think somebody who put it very aptly was Roddy Blackjack, who talked about two cultures side by side. I think that’s what we have to do. We need to operate as two cultures, side by side, walking down the same path to a destination that’s going to provide a future and opportunities for our children.

The other thing they realized, I think, is the need to get on with the protected areas strategy, and this ties in with the economy as well, I think, because people want to know which areas are protected and which areas aren’t.

We need to provide certainty to the resource sector — which areas are going to be protected and which areas are going to be for development. Until we establish where those areas are, there isn’t going to be any certainty. To me, I don’t see where shelving — or one of the lines that I heard on the doorstep was that the protected areas strategy was in the ditch. It appears that the government has picked it up out of the ditch, put it behind the wrecker and taken it to the junkyard or something. It’s unfortunate that they’ve chosen not to proceed with the protected areas strategy. I think it’s a short-sighted decision and I would encourage the members opposite to change their mind and get on with making the protected areas strategy work for all Yukoners.

One thing that I — well, at least until Question Period today I was ready to applaud and I still am ready to applaud the efforts today. The reinstatement of the community development fund and fire smart has definitely made a difference in the riding of Mount Lorne and it contributes to safe and healthy communities. It’s too bad that it took so long for something that was supposed to be an immediate priority of the government and then we found out today that a good portion of that money — it’s possible that it may lapse to next year.

But on a positive note, the Mount Lorne community centre is an excellent example of community development fund money at work in a community.

Many community members were employed in the building of the Mount Lorne community centre facility for many years. It started as a small project, just a community centre, then they built a skating arena with a warm-up shack, which was expanded in the last couple of years. There are tennis courts; there are skateboard parks; there are ski trails. There has been work done on the golf course, and a lot of this work was done with funds from the community development fund and fire smart.

It has made a big difference in that community. I’m actually proud to say that I’ve had an opportunity to be employed working on the Mount Lorne community centre, for a contractor. It was a CDF-funded contract. I’m also proud to say that I donated my time out there, and that my son played organized hockey at Mount Lorne. We were going out there; it may have been cold — there was a temperature cut-off — but it was very enjoyable, and you got to meet a lot of people, all the parents of the children who were playing hockey, the coaches. It was a tremendous effort.

One of the other areas where the community development fund has helped — actually, it was the former Project Yukon that was of some assistance — was in the funding for a part-time recreation director, which is essential in the community centre there to organize all the activities that take place. I know the minister is aware of that — the Minister of Community Services — and he has promised to address this shortfall in the legislation that doesn’t require Mount Lorne and Upper Liard — or maybe it’s Lower Post, I’m not sure — to not be able to access funding for recreation directors.

What a part-time recreation director can provide in that community is a wealth of activities. There are too many to name but here I go: hockey, figure skating, cross-country skiing, dog mushing. They hosted the very successful Carbon Hill race a few weeks ago. There’s tennis, there’s golf, there’s skateboarding, and later this spring, I believe around solstice, they’re going to be having a festival of crafts and bluegrass music, and I would invite everyone in the House to come out and check it out and see what the Mount Lorne community centre has to offer. If anybody needs details, I’d be more than happy to provide them.

Not only does it provide all these activities for residents, but it also attracts people from other areas. Like I said, I live in Wolf Creek and my son played hockey there, but there were people from downtown who were bringing their children out to Mount Lorne to play hockey because there was a nicer atmosphere and a little bit more laid back, not as rough and tumble as hockey in town, I guess.

I’d like to speak a little bit about local governance in Mount Lorne as well. The Hamlet of Mount Lorne is a local governance structure that governs an area from, I believe, around Kookatsoon Lake down to Lewes Lake and all of the Annie Lake Road.

These people have worked very hard on a number of issues over the years. One of the things they did was to develop a land use plan for the area, within the boundaries of the hamlet. This was done in consultation and with the assistance of government officials and with the residents who lived in that area. This plan was accepted by the government, and the hamlet council proceeded on another round of consultation with the community and government to breathe life into that land use plan and to establish the regulations for it. These regulations were submitted in 2000, and to date they have not been approved. I would urge the government that when it’s practising good government to do what is necessary to approve the regulations and empower the residents to have local control over the development and the protection of their community.

One of the other areas that has been worked on in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne is waste management. The efforts of the community there have seen the establishment of a model recycling program. It’s very successful, and it has extended the life of the Mile 9 dump on the Carcross Road for several years. However, we need to work toward a long-term solution to waste management in the Hamlet of Mount Lorne. I’m also aware that we need to work toward a long-term solution to waste management in adjoining ridings as well.

Well, actually, I was thinking about Southern Lakes.

A vital part of Mount Lorne, as well, is the Golden Horn Elementary School. The school provides an excellent education to students from all areas of Mount Lorne as well as from areas in Marsh Lake and Pineridge. I’ve had the opportunity to attend a school council meeting there and meet with the school council and the principal. I have to say that they’re very capable; they’re very active in their school, and they’re very hard working.

Parents whose children attend Golden Horn School told me that they’re looking forward to the day when the soccer field will actually have real grass, and that’s one way of improving the quality of life and education for these children, and I’m sure that those on the other side of the House share that important goal, as well.

Another important aspect of Mount Lorne is the fact that it actually has two fire halls. It has a fire hall in Robinson subdivision, which has a very active volunteer fire department, as well as, I believe it was — I can’t remember exactly when, but the Golden Horn fire hall has existed for quite some time and has been expanded a few times and was recently the recipient of a nice, shiny, new — or newer fire truck. But it’s unfortunate because when I visited the fire hall, it was almost impossible to access the turnout gear and get around the truck between the truck and the door in the back of the hall, so there are some deficiencies that need to be addressed there, and I’m sure that the government will consider that, as well.

I’d like to talk for a little while about the commitment in the Speech from the Throne to be inclusive and to consult citizens on decisions that affect them. I’m sure anybody who has paid attention just prior to the election, during the election and since the election, is aware of the Whitehorse Copper development project. I know certainly that the Member for Copperbelt is aware of it. I would urge the government to pause at this point and listen to what residents have said and the questions they have asked, and to gather the information.

I know this area that’s being proposed for development fairly well, and it’s another one of those areas that’s very beautiful. It’s home to all kinds of wildlife. It’s home to sensitive wildlife habitat, and the residents of Wolf Creek and residents as far away as Mary Lake, across the highway at Pineridge and at MacRae have asked many questions about issues around wildlife habitat, water quality, water quantity, highway safety, with access. Unfortunately, their concerns have not been addressed to their satisfaction. I think this is a good time. We’ve seen the government has taken the time to pause and reflect on decisions it has made, maybe extend the consultation process, go out for more consultation, but I think what needs to happen here is that more information needs to be gathered to address the concerns of the residents of Wolf Creek, Mary Lake, Pineridge and MacRae.

I’ve even had concerns raised from south on the highway and out the Carcross Road way about the traffic.

I’m sure, as you all know, that an area of much interest to me is training and post-secondary education. We must continue to strive for excellence in our post-secondary and apprenticeship training in order to rebuild our economy. A well-trained workforce is crucial to the economy of the Yukon — that’s what’s going to make the economy able to function. If we don’t have people who can fill the skilled positions, then we won’t have an economy. So I think that the government needs to work with industry and work with organized labour to make education and trades training a priority and an option for students in our high school. As I said earlier, coming from a construction background, I realize that this has been an excellent opportunity for me and I’ve seen many young people — men and women — come up through the ranks in the trades and they’ve gone on to raise their families and they’ve had good jobs with benefits that have served them well. I think it’s important that industry and organized labour are involved in that.

My time at Yukon College was very much a learning experience, which is the way that I’ve approached a lot of the things that I’ve done in my life.

Working in a trade is a learning experience. If a day goes by when you don’t learn something, then you’re getting bored and need to find something else to do, I guess. I always found working in a trade to be a very rewarding thing. There was always a new challenge, and there are new challenges for Yukon College. There have been many challenges over the years. Yukon College is a model institution that’s second to none in Canada. During my time on the board, there was a very collaborative approach — talking to stakeholders, talking to community campus committees, talking to industry about their needs. So they have taken a collaborative approach to solve their problems for the last 13 years. As I said earlier today, they have taken a collaborative approach in developing pan-northern circumpolar relations that this government says it wants to pursue.

The University of the Arctic is an example of educational opportunities for northern people who are here in the north, for the north and by the north. And the contribution to all Yukon communities that Yukon College has made needs to be recognized by the government. A wise man once told me that because of Yukon College’s role in the economic, social and cultural development of this territory, it was one of the most important institutions that we have here, and I agree most wholeheartedly with that.

Yukon College has not seen any substantial increases in its funding for more than 13 years, yet it has been faced with demands for more and varied programming and increased costs of education materials and supplies, and I look forward to when the budget is tabled in a few days’ time. I certainly hope that it will show that this government will show a commitment to education by recognizing the need to increase the base grant to Yukon College.

I suppose I could probably go on and on and on. I don’t want to get into talking about the moon and the stars and all that good stuff, but I’d like to say that I’m looking at this as very much, as I said earlier, a learning experience for me and it’s going to be part of my personal growth and development. Once again, I’d like to thank my constituents for their support and I look forward to working with all of you here in the House.

Mr. Hassard: It is truly an honour to stand here today representing the riding of Pelly-Nisutlin. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the people of this riding for their support and the trust they have placed in me. I will do my best to ensure their concerns are addressed in this House over the next four years.

I would like to congratulate my colleagues and members of all parties on their election and re-election to this Legislative Assembly. To the individuals who ran in this past election, successfully or not, I say thank you. It is not only about winning and losing but, more importantly, about providing choices to voters. Only then can we have a true democracy. Good luck in the future, whatever that may bring you.

A special thank you to my family and friends who put their time and effort into my campaign. I cannot do enough to express my appreciation. To Carrie and our son Ty, I hope I can make up for the time apart somewhere in the near future.

I would now like to tell you a bit about myself. I was born on May 5 in 1966 in Fort St. John, B.C. My parents are Robert and Evelyn Hassard. I have two brothers who reside in Teslin, as do my parents. My family moved to Teslin in 1969. Growing up as the son of a big-game outfitter, I was provided ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. From a young age, I was encouraged to be involved in the family business and help out wherever possible. I attended school, grades 1 through 10 in Teslin. In the summer, I was often in the mountains or along the lakes and rivers, where the base camps are usually located. I grew up playing, working and learning all of the time in the midst of First Nation people. I believe it is that upbringing that provided me with what we now call cross-cultural awareness without even knowing it.

I attended high school at F.H. Collins in Whitehorse, graduating in 1984. My first years out of school were spent working construction on the Alaska and Dempster highways, and in the winter, often, trapping. In 1989, I joined my family’s construction business. I’ve continued to work throughout the territory on many different projects.

In October of 2000, I was elected to the Village of Teslin Municipal Council — the beginning of my so-called political career. I have been a member of the Teslin Renewable Resource Council as well as an active member of many recreational groups.

The riding of Pelly-Nisutlin, a new riding, is one of the largest by geography, and probably one of the most diverse. With three communities — Ross River, Faro and Teslin — and several small pockets of constituents at places such as Squanga Lake, Johnson’s Crossing and Little Salmon, travel is the order of the day.

Faro provides an interesting challenge in the fact that the people there are not used to sharing their MLA. They weren’t exactly thrilled about that. So far, we’re getting along. The good people of Faro welcome me each step of the way, and I look forward to working hard for them. While the number of people now living in Faro is greatly reduced from years gone by, the community spirit appears very strong.

The work of creating a new economy is well underway. The need for continued support of the town’s infrastructure is paramount. I’ve heard that over and over. Improvements to the Campbell Highway and Canol roads are also needed to increase tourism. The cleanup of the Faro mine should provide much-needed jobs to many residents of Faro, but unique ways to attract new people and new business must be explored. I’m sure the people of Faro will succeed.

We should also never forget what Faro has provided to the Yukon in the past. We miss those jobs and the money that they brought to Yukon.

Ross River is a community looking for control of its future. The hope of settling land claims is improving. This would provide many opportunities within the community. There’s also a desire to see the formation of a municipality, and I believe putting the reins back in the hands of the people who live there would result in happier people. I’m excited about helping the community on both those fronts.

There’s a need to improve water and sewer infrastructure, as well as Internet, telephone and all the usual things that go with it.

Improved recreation facilities are necessary to improve community spirits, as well as healthy living. Ross River has lost its curling rink and the hockey arena is marginally working. They are looking to have these things improved.

Within Ross River’s traditional territory there is great resource potential. The development of these resources would provide jobs and financial benefit to this community. There is great potential here, and I hope I can assist the people of Ross River to benefit from it.

Teslin, which I call home, with its established municipal government and First Nation government, is a growing community with a bright future. As with all communities, there is always a need to improve existing facilities. Artificial ice for curling and hockey rinks is a priority to many people. An improved sewage conveyance system is also at the top of the list.

Health care for seniors has become an issue in Teslin of late, and I am committed to helping in any way possible. As some of you may have heard, our nurse left us not too long ago. So, we look forward to having a new nurse.

There is still a need to provide phone service north and south of Teslin. While some work was completed last year, there is more to do.

As the community continues to work toward the completion of forest management plans, opportunities in the forest industry will become a reality in the near future. The Teslin Tlingit Council appears to be committed to providing an environment that will enable its members to prosper.

Mr. Speaker, the priorities laid out in the Speech from the Throne show that this government is committed to involving First Nations to a very high degree. Having lived in Yukon for over 30 years, I have been witness to many changes as a result of land claims, and I hope that we can see the completion of land claims before the next four years are over.

When I look at British Columbia, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Alaska, I see First Nations involved to a high degree in the development of their resources.

I strongly believe the Yukon also needs to do this. By making First Nations full partners in economic development, we can hopefully get past the them-and-us attitudes of the past.

As land claims are implemented, I’m sure we will be witness to many more changes. Among those changes, I hope to see opportunities for First Nations and non-First Nations to work more closely together. Joint venture companies such as what Air North has with the Vuntut Gwitchin look like a positive start. Perhaps a railroad or a pipeline will be next.

Implementation of land claims starts us down a road of planning, of land use and fish and wildlife management among other things. These are expensive and time-consuming practices that we must complete.

Mr. Speaker, the environment is important to all Yukoners. I often shake my head when I listen to the argument over the balance between the economy and the environment. Well, somewhere between total destruction and total protection is where we should be — we all have a different interpretation of where that balance is.

Having grown up in rural Yukon, I am quite aware of how beautiful this territory is. I have travelled by plane, boat, snowmobile, horse and even foot to many remote regions of this territory. We have clean water, fresh air, and miles and miles of spectacular wilderness. I want my children and the children of all Yukoners to be able to experience this same great land. I believe this territory, however, is large enough to allow resource development without compromising a healthy environment.

I believe it is imperative that Yukoners make the decisions on when and where development happens. We are the ones who have to live with those decisions.

I would ask that the special interest groups, with their dollars from the south, let us do our thing. We, as Yukoners, are very capable of looking at the mistakes of others and deciding what is best for us. We have a wealth of knowledge in the families who have lived here for generations. When we talk of protection, I think of the forest industry I was involved with. We have a huge amount of regulations in place today that prevent any unauthorized development from happening. I dare each and every one of you in this House to try to get a timber-cutting permit. It’ll change your life, I guarantee you.

Development in this territory is subject to scrutiny by the federal government, the territorial government and First Nation governments. In the election campaign, nothing was made clearer to me than the fact that people were not happy or comfortable with the Yukon protected areas strategy, and I think it is safe to say that one month of intense questioning by Yukoners should be considered as consultation.

The Umbrella Final Agreement provides a way for Yukoners to protect special places by creating special management areas. I think we need to explore that. We need to have faith in one another and put our heads together to provide our children with a functioning territory. Who, I ask, knows the Yukon better than Yukoners? We as a government can, and will, make decisions in the best interest of the Yukon and its people.

I hope I don’t offend anyone with my next topic. With the exception of the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, a topic that has only marginally been discussed in the past few days is our fish and wildlife. Hunting and trapping are a tradition for most rural Yukoners. We depend on fish and wildlife for our food, as well as a source of income in many cases. Big game outfitting has provided jobs to Yukoners over the years. Understandably, the majority of this activity takes place in remote parts of the territory.

And yet much of the benefit comes to Whitehorse. From hotels, grocery stores, airline companies, taxi drivers, the money from big game outfitting makes its way into the pockets of many Yukoners. The money that the government collects by way of licences and permits should also not be overlooked. I’m sure if we were to compare the benefits to the costs incurred, this industry is one of the most valuable to Yukon.

While low fur prices are hurting the trapping industry right now, it has the potential to again put money in the pockets of many Yukoners. Every time a trapper buys a new snowmobile or gas for that snowmobile, a dollar is made somewhere. It all adds up.

To top it off, we are dealing with a renewable resource. Properly managed, these businesses can go on forever. I believe that during our time in government, we should show support to the people who derive their income from this line of work. They provide us with valuable information about the land and the animals on it. These people are the true experts, and as a government, we should be listening to them.

As we all know, voters of the Yukon have been known to be very unforgiving. It is incumbent on this government to practise good governing. If we don’t, we will suffer the same fate as the previous government. I believe our Premier is on the right track when he championed southeast Yukon. We need to do more than just divide up the cash that Ottawa sends our way. I believe rural Yukoners understand this point better than anyone. If I had a penny for every time I referred to Whitehorse as "little Ottawa" in the last six years, I could quit buying lottery tickets.

While Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon, it is no more important than any other community when it comes to creating wealth. I would dare to say that if funding from Ottawa ever stopped, rural Yukoners would fare much better at making a living.

I was quite happy when it was decided that for the interim winter works we targeted municipalities and First Nation governments. I believe it shows this government is committed to working with all other governments. While we did not name each community in the Speech from the Throne, I am confident that the action taken by this government speaks louder than words.

I could go on about education concerns, volunteer firefighter concerns, waste management concerns, but I think my time would be better spent working on solutions rather than just discussing the items.

Mr. Speaker, I believe I’m a fair person who is always open to new ideas. I plan to work with all members of this House for the benefit of all Yukoners. While I do not have the formal education that many of my colleagues have, I bring to this House a wealth of knowledge earned through my life’s experiences. I look forward to learning and to sharing what I already know. I promise to conduct myself accordingly in this House and to respect all members of it. At the end of every day, I hope we can still look each other in the eye.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say thank you to former Speaker of the House, Sam Johnston, for giving the prayer on opening day. As well, I would like to thank him for his advice over the last few months. It has helped immensely. GŁnilschish, Sam.

Thank you.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: First of all, I would like to thank, as usual, the people of my riding of Porter Creek North for placing their faith and trust in me in the last election. I’m honoured and humbled by their endorsement and promise to do my very best for them and for all Yukoners.

I would also like to sincerely thank the tireless volunteers who worked with me on the campaign. The phrase "team Yukon" became very real during the month of October as Yukoners of all past political persuasions stepped forward to work with us, to change the direction of the government and to get our economy going again after many years of recession.

I would also like to recognize the blessings and support of my family, including some of the family staunchly aligned with other political parties. They’ve been very supportive and expect nothing but the best.

It gives me great pleasure to rise today in support of the Speech from the Throne and to speak of the government’s initiatives in the protection of our environment. Every Yukoner benefits from our great environment — from fishing and hunting to tourism and our health. Some have lived here for generations and have grown to appreciate the clean air, the water and the wildlife. Some of us have chosen to come to the Yukon to make our homes and raise our children because of the people and the environment. Some make their living off the environment and all have environmental influences in their occupations and their lives.

It is the intention of our government to protect this great environment and to see that it is protected for our children and for their children. I hope that all of us can agree on this. One of our greatest resources reaches all across the northern Yukon. I speak, of course, about the Porcupine caribou herd.

In my previous life as a veterinarian, I had the opportunity of submitting blood samples to our laboratory from this herd to determine the pregnancy rate. One of the test results came back "inconclusive, please resubmit". I laughed for hours. The pathologist obviously had no concept of the north. He had no concept of the magnitude of this herd and the huge part of North America that this herd calls home. I had a copy of this famous poster about the herd, clearly showing hundreds, if not thousands, of animals in one small valley and I thought how I might actually find this animal and retest it. I never did send the poster to him, although I’ve been threatening to for years.

The Porcupine caribou herd is not only a northern Yukon tradition; it is a Yukon treasure and certainly a national treasure. It crosses many artificial man-made boundaries and is something that all of us have to work to protect. My government and my department will work tirelessly to ensure the safety and survival of this herd.

The Chisana herd is another of the Yukon herds that is desperately in need of our protection.

We will work here, as well, to ensure the stability of this herd. We have made an agreement with the State of Alaska to begin an active program to ensure calf survival in their breeding grounds in Alaska. We will continue to work with Alaska to monitor this herd and to preserve the unique genetic diversity. This is one good example of our two jurisdictions working together to solve a common problem, and we look forward to others.

But I do have some serious concerns about our environment, Mr. Speaker. There is a creeping attitude to protect the environment at all costs, to block all development and stifle the economy to such a degree that no economic development or growth is possible. This has resulted in a significant loss of population, jobs, opportunities, and ultimately it has cost us our economy.

A smaller population means smaller transfer payments and smaller budgets for environmental protection. Without an economy, we have little power to protect our environment. If we don’t have the money to monitor and inventory our vast resources, then we simply can’t protect them either. The two are intimately linked and to ignore either one is to endanger the other.

The sad part is that there are some on both sides of the argument who are unable, or who choose to be unable, to recognize that. Unfortunately, I have a sad announcement today, Mr. Speaker. The money tree is extinct in the Yukon. We can’t keep calling for more government money to be thrown at a problem. With the extinction of the money tree, we are now at an impasse.

The trajectory of spending has become outrageous. A bit of money to solve a single problem seems to rapidly escalate into a standing item in the budget in future years. A short and targeted federal program suddenly becomes a standing item in the budget, and we just keep pushing our spending higher and higher.

Perhaps people have noticed that over one-tenth of the population of the Yukon has left. It makes great optics. Our unemployment rate goes down since fewer people are looking for work.

Mr. Speaker, of course there are fewer Yukoners looking for work. They all live in Alberta.

I’ve had a rather strange working career myself. I’ve worked as a radio announcer, I’ve run a snack bar for a camp, I’ve worked as an X-ray technician, a surgical technician, and once even as a professional pallbearer. I’ve worked for companies with over 5,000 employees, ran an animal facility and an entire research facility, but all of these have been as an employee. In every one, I really didn’t have the primary responsibility for the bottom line. That wasn’t my job.

Then I came to the strange place on the map called the Yukon and became one of the people bitten by the land and the people of the Yukon. I had the great opportunity to do a talking book, Songs of a Sourdough, by Robert Service, and I did this for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind — another one of my collection of rather strange jobs over the years, but also one of the reasons I fell in love with this part of the world because I did it right in the process of moving up here.

I came up to the Yukon to help move a truck from Ontario, but I went back to quit my job and leave that job. I took the gamble of leaving a nice, secure job with a steady paycheque to move to private business and a lot of uncertainty. It has given me a great deal of respect for anyone in private business.

During this time, I found a great Canadian book on how to start a small business. It’s a great little book, and I have to admit I really bought it for the title, When Friday isn’t Payday. Everyone should have to run a business as part of their basic education and learn that, at the end of the day, the owner gets what’s left.

I’ve never regretted the decision of going into business on my own. My first year of business, I made almost 10 percent of my Toronto paycheque. It’s really easy to just sort of throw money at a problem, but when you have to actually make that money, keep customers happy, make decisions that will affect how much money you actually make at the end of the day and how you can best spend it while keeping food on the tables of your employees and keep your bankers happy — all of these important — then you have a very different situation to consider.

Friday isn’t payday any more, Mr. Speaker. We can’t sit on the opposite side and simply ask questions. We have to answer the questions, and it’s far easier to ask the questions than to answer them.

I spent a great deal of time at the doors of Porter Creek North during the election, and I made six promises to my constituents. Number one, I will do my best to use the party platform to show the direction our government will take over the term of our mandate. No one ever promised, Mr. Speaker, to do everything in the first three months. Those who think otherwise simply don’t understand government. I will do my very best — number two — to represent the interests in the Legislature of Porter Creek North and all the rest of the Yukon in my portfolio. Number three, I will consult with people and listen to what they have to say. Number four, I will be back to see them and make a two-term commitment to serve the riding. Number five, I will do everything in my power to change the decorum of this House, and this has been a topic in a number of speeches, Mr. Speaker. It was one of the most common complaints that I had at the door, one of the most common complaints that most of us had at the door. When the Legislature is often referred to as "daycare", it’s time to make some very serious changes. All government members are committed to this, and we hope that the commitment reaches across all party lines. Number six, and not the least, is, I believe, contrary to an earlier speech today. I believe the government really is like a business. It’s a business, Mr. Speaker, and we may have some different powers than the average small business owner has, but it is definitely a business nonetheless. We have a product, we charge a fee for this product, we have a staff to support, and we have to avoid bankruptcy and keep our bankers happy. That product might be a park, might be better health care, providing a safe place to live, programs to give a helping hand to those who need it. The product might be safe roads, a better environment, a good education for our children, a good place to make a living and provide for our families. Our product is all of these things, unlike most businesses, and how to provide these things within our income is how we run our business. And our business must survive, Mr. Speaker. We may have good times, we may have bad times, but we cannot go bankrupt.

The government runs a business worth over a half billion dollars, but it is a business. But I have to, again, share the bad news from the Department of Environment: the money tree is definitely extinct in the Yukon. If we have to throw money at a problem — and sometimes we do — we must also decide where that money is coming from and what programs might have to suffer as a result. The media reports that the opposition wants more money for health care. They’re right; we do. But where does it come from? We can’t continue to have schools half full. We can’t keep hiring more and more people into more and more elaborate programs, often doing the same thing. We can’t build larger and better roads with limited use. We can’t allow huge silos of administration to spend millions of dollars without producing a single scrap of program delivery. We have to know where that money is coming from. We have to set priorities and sometimes recognize that the joys and benefits of our remote land are sometimes also our limitations and our problems.

When I first came to the Yukon, there was a debate about enlarging the Riverdale bridge at a huge cost. I do understand, Mr. Speaker, that that was our party that was suggesting that. As best as I could understand at the time, the main reason was because there was a rush hour of about 10 minutes twice a day. I have to put this matter in context — there are many more facets to the question, I now understand, of course. Why is the hospital on the wrong side of the river? And if the bridge goes out, what do we do with the people on the other side? This has happened once.

But my first impression about the bridge was the issue of the rush hour. Now, I just came from a place where five of my 10 technicians who worked for me commuted over an hour and a half each way to work. But here there seemed to be a very short-lived problem that some people thought needed millions of dollars thrown at it.

To me, the solution seemed quite easy — move to Porter Creek North, and I did. At some point, Mr. Speaker, we have to recognize that where we live gives us both benefits and challenges and, yes, we likely will have to look at all the aspects of that bridge some day.

Nothing is as simple as it seems at first. Before I was in government, problems seemed rather simple. I will try to remember that in listening to the opposition’s criticism. It’s always much easier to ask the questions than it is to answer them.

During the election past, it was made clear at the doorsteps that Yukoners were looking for job creation and a renewed economy. Young adults repeatedly said they wanted to stay in the Yukon but saw no opportunities for themselves. Many were ready to leave. We repeatedly met mothers whose husbands worked in the oilfields of British Columbia or the mines of the Northwest Territories. They were raising children alone because they wanted to raise them in the Yukon but had no chance to do this without an economy. One gentleman was actually fixing his truck, getting ready to leave. This is not acceptable. We can do a lot better than that.

But the environment doesn’t have to suffer in order to create the economy and jobs. We need a balance of both, and this is more than possible. We can’t listen to nothing but strongly opinionated groups on either side of the spectrum and think that this represents the average Yukoner. Those who would mine everything in sight without regard for the beauty, the wildlife and the wilderness make as little sense as those who would protect huge tracts of land without concern for the potential development of some of those tracts of land.

It is clearly obvious to even the most casual observer that we must protect this great land for our children and our children’s children. The development of a way to do this has been a priority of many governments across Canada and across North America. It’s a noble desire and one to work very hard on, but what has happened in the past seven years is uncertainty. The protected areas strategy that the Yukon Party government signed on to in the early 1990s, contrary to what the World Wildlife Fund was trying to claim about two weeks ago, was based on the concept of radiating zones ranging from no-development areas to multiple-use areas. Small core areas where there would be no development activity were to be surrounded by larger radiating zones where differing levels of development of activity could be permitted.

However, under subsequent governments, the process was developed to implement the protected areas strategy, replace the multiple-use, radiating-zone concept with massive withdrawals of areas, where no development activity would be permitted. This approach effectively undermined the protected areas strategy and destroyed investor confidence in the territory. The Yukon economy was literally put into the parks.

Complicating the situation even further is the fact that there were two other processes being utilized simultaneously to create parks in the territory, in addition to the protected areas strategy; namely, the process to create special management areas under land claims and the national parks. In some areas, it was not clear which process was being used to create a park. The Fishing Branch area, for example, was being considered for protection under both the protected areas strategy and the special management area under the Vuntut Gwitchin land claim.

The Wolf Lake area was proposed as a national park by Parks Canada and as a protected area under the Government of Yukon. The new park that was created in the Kluane game sanctuary was originally thought to be a national park. As the previous Premier stated, she knew nothing about its creation. It turned out to be a territorial park, created under the special management area process.

Whatever park creation process was utilized, on four separate occasions, mining claims were included within the boundaries of the park. The signal to the mining community and the resource sector was that there was no longer any certainty concerning development activity in the Yukon. There was no longer a balance between the economy and the environment, and Yukoners have had to pay a terrible price, in terms of a seriously depressed economy and job loss in the territory.

Mr. Speaker, our challenge is to restore that balance, and that is why I have decided to step back, put the flawed Yukon protected areas strategy on hold, consult with all stakeholders, and start over with developing a process that will work for all of us. To continue with such a flawed process simply doesn’t make any sense.

But let’s spend a moment to look at where we stand to date, Mr. Speaker.

The leader of the opposition says about the Yukon protected areas strategy, and I quote from, I believe, yesterday, "The first thing you do is kill it." Let’s look more critically at what the opposition leader seems to be upset about. To date, the Yukon has 12.517 percent of its land mass under protection — 12.517 percent. That’s a huge area, Mr. Speaker. And since the original proposal to the protected areas strategy looked at a target of nine to 12 percent, I’d say we’re doing rather well, especially considering there are other areas proposed already and currently being worked on. This should bring our protected areas total to probably well over 20 percent.

But let’s put that in perspective, Mr. Speaker. Alberta and British Columbia are tied for second and third place at 12.5 percent. Mr. Hummel of the World Wildlife Federation in Ontario says we aren’t doing enough. I challenged him to put Ontario’s number on the table. I haven’t heard from him since. But Ontario is actually not bad. At fourth, it’s at 8.9 percent. At fifth, Manitoba, 8.4 percent; sixth is Nova Scotia at 8.3 percent, and so on. We get down to Prince Edward Island at 4.2 percent, and last is New Brunswick at 3.2 percent. Perhaps Mr. Hummel should start looking east in the future.

I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with First Nation elders about this land of ours. I’ve had similar opportunities to speak with my own elders about this. Mr. Speaker, many seem to forget that elders aren’t restricted to only one side of the debate. First Nations and non-First Nations alike, both have to consult with their elders and both have traditional knowledge if they choose to use it. And one thing is true: all elders seem to agree on one basic principle — the traditional knowledge and wisdom. We must respect our land and respect what God or the Creator has given to us. We must leave a better life for our future generations. We have to always remember that we’re all on the same side. We must always make every reasonable effort to get consensus and consult with all people.

This is where my greatest concern lies, Mr. Speaker. Repeated public meetings and forums put on by groups that have a strong and predetermined agenda cannot be called public consultation, when they preface the very discussion by saying that they refuse to listen to the public — nothing more. They are special interest groups. They do not speak for the public, nor do they necessarily have the public interest at heart. They’re lobby groups, representing one point of view.

Clearly they should have access to the process and they should be heard like everyone else, but they should not and will not drive the process. This must be true of all special interest groups from all sides of the debate.

Somewhere in the middle is reality and we must step back and listen to all Yukoners and proceed in a way that will meet all our goals. Not everyone will be happy with every decision, but we must find a space where we can all live and agree to live. We probably all agree that the only human activity that has no influence on our environment is looking at it from a great distance with a powerful telescope. Everything we do has an impact on the environment, from walking on it, driving by it or flying over it. Everything has an impact of one sort or another.

We can’t talk about four-wheelers scarring the land and how these scars will soon be gone, and then talk about how long it took the footprints of the dinosaur to disappear in Drumheller, Alberta, and we all know what happened to the dinosaurs, Mr. Speaker.

Our job is to find a place where the impact on our environment is minimal, while retaining a vibrant economy, and our government believes this can be done. The First Nation communities have long been denied full participation in Yukon society, and this has been to the detriment of us all. Yukon First Nations have societies of their own that have existed long before, and often in spite of, the non-aboriginal presence here.

The Yukon will only be poorer for failing to keep the doors open to First Nation people. We must remember, though, that each First Nation has negotiated, or is in the process of negotiating, an agreement that outlines what is most important to them. Each is different, and each reflects different priorities and different interests.

This is not a simple question, Mr. Speaker. We cannot lump all together and think they are the same. While there are many similarities, the differences can sometimes be staggering.

To not recognize this is as silly as thinking that Canada, the United States and Mexico are all the same because they’re all in North America.

Beginning on April 1, we enter into a completely new chapter of the Yukon story. With devolution we gain control over our own resources and much more of our own lives. We still may have to look at the great white father in the north for our wisdom and our fish and our oceans. But on that day the Yukon becomes more independent and more responsible.

Actually, I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker, we don’t seem to have any oceans. The water across the top of the Yukon isn’t actually ours. We’ll have to work on that one. No one thought this was a problem — until oil or gas is discovered there and all the revenues go to Yellowknife. I’m suspicious then it will become a very hot topic of debate. Yesterday the leader of the opposition referred to Canada as coast to coast to coast — a term that I applaud. Unfortunately, the Yukon doesn’t have a coast. So I’m quite sure he was referring to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

This independence has both great advantages and great responsibilities at the same time. My Department of Environment will inherit responsibility for our water resources, other than the fish in it, of course. We can begin to make our own decisions about how to make clean drinking water a larger priority for our people. Why would anyone in their right mind build an outhouse next to their water supply? But we’ve seen that in the last couple of years, even in Whitehorse. I will vigorously fight that one, Mr. Speaker.

We can regulate how resources like water are exported. We can make sure that our children have clean water and clean air in the future. We take this responsibility knowing that we can no longer blame someone else for the problem. On April 1, it becomes our problem alone. We can begin to plan, manage and develop more local policies and regulatory regimes that will contribute to a prosperous and competitive economy. We can begin to restore investor confidence in our territory and use this as another tool to accomplish our goals. Even last week I had the opportunity to talk to bankers who tell me that they’re already seeing more projects, larger projects, and increased optimism in our economy.

Our government has already started to make a difference in this territory. Four days after signing an agreement with the Gwitchin, our government was able to announce the creation of what was ironically the first park developed under the Yukon protected areas strategy. Devolution will add to the optimism that we have started.

I had a discussion the other day with one of our oldest Yukon Party supporters, and her comments were interesting. We were discussing the surprising support we saw in the last election, and she made the comment during this discussion, "Well, the environmentalists sure didn’t vote for us." Actually, I suggest that that is very wrong, Mr. Speaker. I found that the environmentalists voted very strongly for our government. Many have come to realize that there has to be a balance between the economy and the environment, and one of the best ways to protect the environment is to have the money to do it.

I have to admit to some confusion, though, Mr. Speaker. The opposition has been critical that we haven’t solved the Yukon’s problems in three months. I seem to remember that they were in government some time ago and they didn’t solve all the problems in the years of their government, but I am honoured that they feel that we can do better, and we will work on that one, too.

Some have criticized this government for seeming to favour the southeast Yukon and the Kaska Nation in the past few weeks. I must remind them, Mr. Speaker, that the Kaska are challenging devolution in the courts on May 13, and it is essential that we resolve our differences before this date. Yes, their challenge is against the federal government and not us. And I’m disappointed and worried that so many members opposite don’t seem to realize the implications of this challenge. This challenge will seriously affect the ability of the Yukon government to manage the resource-rich land in the southeast Yukon and will impede the economic development of that region. To not spend a large amount of time on this problem would be irresponsible and foolish.

There are other ways that we can begin to stimulate the economy, Mr. Speaker. One that comes immediately to mind is the trapping industry. I had a marvellous meeting with Mr. Guenther Mueller last week about the past and the future of this industry, and it was an eye-opener. The Yukon Trappers Association has done a marvellous job of marketing our furs in Canada and around the world. The label of Yukon soft gold on our Yukon furs has not only increased our market dramatically, but there is now a shortage of Yukon furs.

The trapping concessions are carefully allocated by both First Nations and by the Yukon government. They can be very controversial, and not one of the past few governments has had the fortitude to tackle the problem. Today, 56 traplines lie unassigned today. At least that number again lie dormant. We have an immediate market for furs, and perhaps one-third of the traplines to produce them are empty.

People want to work, Mr. Speaker, but they can’t find the place to and no one wants to take on this challenge to get our people working. We do plan to change that, or at least try.

I have asked the officials to prepare lists of dormant and unassigned traplines with explanations of how this has happened in each case and to work on a government-to-government basis with First Nations to try to get people working in this industry. This is a highly sensitive area, and much of the solution lies with our First Nation governments. But we will at least start the process to get our people working.

One thing I would like to mention, Mr. Speaker, is a terrible accident that occurred in northern Ontario several weeks ago. A helicopter owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and their chief pilot, along with two biologists and a conservation officer, went down in northern Ontario and all four were killed. I would like to at least mention in the House the memory and the work that our conservation officers and biologists do. It sometimes goes very unnoticed, and people think that they are out there sort of putzing around and having a good time. And to a degree, that may be true. But it is dangerous work, and it’s very vital work for the protection of our environment, and this should not go unnoticed.

We will be looking at other ways within our mandate over the next number of years to look at things like solid hazardous waste. We will be looking at tires, we’ll be looking at oil, we’ll be looking at garbage in general and ways of recycling, and we’ll be trying to work on these very actively with people such as those with the three recycling centres. I have spent time meeting with many of these people, and we’ll meet with more in the future and look forward very much to developing those things.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to make one final comment and, again, make people aware of the fact that the Yukon faces a potentially dangerous situation this summer with the influx of the West Nile virus. This is something that has been mentioned in the media, it has been mentioned in terms of horses. Much information is now coming out that the estimates of cases and death in southern Canada were grossly underestimated. What was happening was that a laboratory considered positive only after a second confirmation, so many of the cases occurring in the fall weren’t confirmed until quite a bit after the media picked it up, and the media seems to have missed that part, which is understandable.

At the same time, large numbers of birds were being tested by, for the most part, the same labs and same personnel, so you can imagine how this backlog has occurred. We’re now estimating that the number of cases of West Nile virus in the human population was probably 300 to 400 percent what was initially put out in the press. The number of deaths is probably very much underestimated as well, because what happens is that the virus affects many individuals in such a way that the death occurs of other causes, and that’s what’s recorded, and the involvement of West Nile is either not known or simply not recorded.

This is a disease that came only a few short years ago into North America. Its spread has been dramatic. Horses are very much affected, and I urge anyone with horses to look at this. I urge people to look seriously at many aspects of the control. That’s part of why we’re looking at solid hazardous waste and the tire disposal. A lot of it is, they’re tires and we have to do something with them, but the reality is also that every time you have a tire in the backyard or up Grey Mountain Road, it’s probably collecting water and it’s probably breeding mosquitoes, and we have to get those tires out of there, not only as a hazardous waste, but also as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

I urge everyone in the Yukon to take this disease seriously because it could turn out to be much more serious than we ever expected. Perhaps I am wrong and I very much hope that I am, but I and many others are quite suspicious that we’re not.

I’d like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank the members of the House for their indulgence. I appreciate the time.

Ms. Duncan: It’s an honour to rise today on behalf of the people of Porter Creek South, people of the Yukon. I consider representing my constituents — Yukoners throughout the territory — to be a privilege. It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously, as every member has said before me.

It is an honour; it’s a pleasure and it’s a privilege to be of service and I thank my constituents for their trust. I’d also like to congratulate, as others have done before me, all the members of the Legislature. To those of you who have risen before me to make your maiden speeches, congratulations. That first one can be a tough one to deliver. And welcome. I do hope that our thoughts and actions are guided, Mr. Speaker, as you direct us each day, by temperance, wisdom and the thought that we are serving all the people of the Yukon.

I’d also like to take a moment to honour those who have gone before us in this place. My former colleagues, Pam Buckway, Dale Eftoda, Scott Kent, Sue Edelman, Cynthia Tucker, Jim McLachlan and Dennis Schneider, to name just a few — these individuals and others have all served their constituents and all Yukoners. On behalf of all of us, I believe we should celebrate and thank the previous members of this Legislature for their dedicated, professional service to Yukoners.

All individuals who sought office in the election this past November deserve our thanks.

As citizens, these individuals have been driven by a desire to serve their community, to serve Yukoners. It’s a courageous and a brave thing to do. As a fellow Yukoner, I salute their efforts, and I thank them for their contribution to Yukon life. And they are supported by their families and by an incredible number of volunteers.

The success of Yukon governments of all political stripes has also been served and is served by a very professional Yukon public service. These individuals are non-partisan, they are professional, and they are dedicated. They have served all ministers of every political stripe with honour and with dignity and they continue to do so, and I thank them for their service.

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech sets the tone for the Legislature. It outlines the priorities of government and usually some of the details of how those priorities are going to be achieved. It’s a road map, and it has highlighted signposts. It needs to be very clear and very direct. Our government’s first throne speech, Mr. Speaker, as you may recall, was very short. I said we’re calling the Legislature back to pass the budget. This needed to be done to give Yukoners certainty and to carry on with the programs and activities that had been outlined and for which the majority of the money had been spent. We were straightforward and direct with Yukoners, and we got down to work right away.

One of the suggestions that we acted upon and that was introduced to this Legislature was the moving of the capital budget to the fall. It was a direct request from the Yukon contracting community. It’s of use to contractors, Mr. Speaker, because what it does is it outlines the construction projects and work of all sizes and types to be done in the forthcoming construction season. It also makes sure that those tenders, those all-important tenders, can be out early. Tenders can then be bid upon and won and heavy equipment moved before the road bans go on in the spring.

Unfortunately, this throne speech doesn’t tell us what this government’s intentions are with respect to the capital budget. Governing isn’t about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing what’s right and what’s best for Yukoners. I’ve heard from many, many members of the contracting community that work is difficult to come by. Nothing has come from this government and nothing will happen as a result of the late budget and the late recall of the Legislature — because it takes time for tenders to be prepared — until very late this summer, well past the opportune time for construction.

Unfortunately, this throne speech gives no indication as to whether the government intends to continue with the capital budget being passed in the fall or whether they intend to dismantle that as well.

Our next opportunity for a throne speech as a government indicated seven priorities, and these included settling outstanding land claims, rebuilding the Yukon economy, achieving devolution, developing infrastructure, maintaining quality health care, addressing alcohol and drug addiction and restoring confidence in government.

I’m very pleased to see that that model of outlining a number of priorities was adopted and, indeed, some of those priorities were adopted.

This throne speech that’s before us for consideration — this February 27, 2003, document — took an inordinate amount of time to get here. Clearly, that time has not been spent as a caucus or we would have seen something other than a rewrite of the platform — that this government has no intention of delivering upon.

The priorities outlined in the throne speech, although similar to ours, show a distinct lack of understanding of the complexities of Yukon society and of government.

There’s no understanding or recognition of the needs in the daily lives of Yukoners in this document. Others before me have asked, where is the substance? I say, where’s the understanding and the knowledge of the task at hand? What has the government and the caucus been doing?

Well, let’s look at rebuilding the economy, Mr. Speaker. There’s talk of investment, and the resource sector will be promoted through the creation of a resource-permitting regime modelled on successful regimes. Where’s the mention of DAP/YESAA in this document, an Umbrella Final Agreement commitment? If the government truly believes in it — in better government-to-government relationships and the Umbrella Final Agreement — when and where is this government going to live up to the Yukon environmental socio-economic act, lovingly referred to as DAP and renamed YESAA.

There’s talk on rebuilding the economy that a regulation task force will be established to review government policies, regulations and legislation. The round table, the private sector in the Yukon, has told successive governments of different political stripes that they are best equipped to review government regulations, that this should be done by the private sector. They would, in fact, willingly undertake that for government. Unfortunately, in this throne speech they’re not asked, and the committee is ill-defined.

I must make the comment about high gold prices and the recent emerald discovery sparking the interest in the Yukon mining economy and exploration in the territory. The mineral exploration tax credit also deserves some credit for that interest, and the mining community will reaffirm that and outline, for those members not familiar with it, the flow-through tax credit that was lobbied for as well, which is significant.

There have been several mentions of the community development fund and fire smart. Fire smart is an excellent fire abatement program. That’s what it is; that’s what it was designed to do. That is why it was supported in the millions of dollars by the previous government and the government before that. Cutting brush is not an economic plan; it’s not going to give jobs for years and years and years for our children. It’s not a lifetime career for our children, and it’s not an economic plan. The community development fund is billed by the government as short-term work. Again, it’s not an economic plan. The Member for Klondike, in 1997, in Hansard, called it a political slush fund for the ministers and the government of the day. Unfortunately we are seeing that, as well.

The members talk in the throne speech about completing and implementing land claims. The throne speech on page 7 outlines, if requested, the government will help with the ratification process. Well, there is a legal obligation there. There is work to be done. Working toward a resolution of land claims is also about relationship building. It’s about trust; it’s about respect; it’s about working together.

The government refers to land claims agreements and working toward making them living, working documents — a laudable objective and one that every single member of this Legislature of every stripe has always spoken of. It’s part of your desire to serve; part of an individual’s desire to serve their community is to live up to such agreements as the Umbrella Final Agreement and the individual land claims that are negotiated.

I’d like to speak briefly about the memorandums of understanding. There was a land claim signed and concluded during my term as Premier and there was the Ta'an Kwach'an land claim, which brought eight of 14. There were four other memorandums of understanding reached by the March 31 deadline.

The credit for reaching those memorandums of understanding must go to the individuals on all three sides who worked incredibly hard and incredibly long hours. It was a very, very difficult time for all leaders involved. Nonetheless, agreements were reached. That was a huge step forward. A great deal of work remained to be done — the legal drafting that seems to go on, the land withdrawals and, most importantly, ratification.

It’s interesting to hear the comments we’ve had about decorum in the Legislature.

The formalizing of the government-to-government relationships with First Nations — I noticed with particular interest the reference to education. Mr. Speaker, we have heard in recent weeks respected First Nation educators, leaders in their community and throughout Yukon, speak about the education system, seeking performance measures and seeking accountability in the education system. Rather than be told that we spent $3 million and 6,000 students were transported by a bus, or by buses; that parents, the Yukon public, would know about the reading recovery program and the incredible success rates that they have achieved; that the all-day kindergarten program for four year olds is working as a pilot project and could be considered for introduction into other schools — that there are difficulties with math in our high schools.

Those are the sorts of indicators and the kind of accountability that those First Nation people asked for on the radio and that Yukoners, parents and students alike, are asking for. And those who are not, in some way — and that’s hard to picture, Mr. Speaker — affected by the education system, they’re demanding those kinds of performance measures and that kind of accountability for their tax dollars.

We spend a lot of money on education in this territory. It’s money well-spent, particularly on programs like reading recovery. Yet the first words out of this government in this throne speech were a repeal of that accountability act. The Education minister has to ask how this government can speak of improving government and accountability and formalizing relationships and working on a government-to-government basis when First Nation governments are asking for this kind of accountability and this government is not delivering it. In fact, Mr. Speaker, they’re repealing it.

Making First Nations full partners in the economic development of the territory — I noticed the comments in here were, word for word, a repeat of the 1992 throne speech, Mr. Speaker, and I’m sure, with our new copyright and patent laws, the royalties have been extended to those who wrote the original words.

It’s not clear, Mr. Speaker, what is intended by this chapter. Is it the government’s intention to extend a veto over resource development? Is it the government’s intention to embark upon some unique arrangement? It’s not clear. Yukon Party members have got to ask themselves what horse this is, because the one that lifelong Yukon Party members so proudly rode in past legislatures have staunchly criticized previous governments for even a hint of thousands of square miles, have defended in this House and have railed against land claims settlements that in some way in their view infringed upon Yukon rights and the rights of Yukoners.

Yukon Party members have to ask themselves what this NDP Premier is up to.

I was quite surprised, as were many individuals, Mr. Speaker, about the devolution bashing in the throne speech. This devolution bashing is particularly surprising in light of some of the comments made in their response to the Speech from the Throne and also the comments made by the Premier in the Hill Times. Devolution will lead to a positive change for the Yukon, says Mr. Fentie. There’s no mention of improving the devolution agreement. I have to ask how many members of caucus took the time or were invited to have a good look at the devolution transfer agreement, to speak with the negotiators who did that, who worked so incredibly hard on the devolution transfer agreement? It’s a signed document, with the weight of a Cabinet decision behind it. The members talked about respect for other members who have gone before. Those members, of various governments, asked themselves: was that the best deal? Absolutely, it was and it is. So how this government intends to improve on it is beyond my comprehension, Mr. Speaker.

Let’s talk about the general principles that guided the devolution transfer agreement — the negotiations, the general principles. The federal government will continue its fiduciary obligation and relationship with aboriginal people of the Yukon and will continue to negotiate and implement land claim and self-government agreements in the Yukon. The devolution transfer agreement will not affect the federal government’s ongoing international responsibilities or federal functions in areas not assumed by territorial governments or by First Nation governments.

With respect to environmental matters, the general principle is that the creator of a hazard or a contamination is responsible for the removal or remediation. In simple terms, if it happened on Ottawa’s watch, it’s Ottawa’s responsibility still. That’s in the devolution transfer agreement. So how can there be a throne speech tabled that makes reference to difficulties with environmental remediation and how could members sanction a throne speech that says that? How could they sanction a throne speech that makes reference to forest fire suppression as a problem when in fact Canada will share a percentage of the extraordinary fire suppression costs for a five-year period after devolution — that Canada share declines by 10 percent each year from 80 percent in year 1 to 40 percent in year 5. After the fifth year, the Yukon government is fully responsible for the entire costs — after the fifth year. That’s a better deal than what was on the table when we took office in 2000. It’s the best deal we could get and it’s a signed deal. And I can’t imagine members any more abandoning the Umbrella Final Agreement than I can, standing on the floor of this House, imagine hearing members suggest they’re going to improve the devolution transfer agreement. A duly-elected, legally bound Cabinet signed that agreement, and it’s a good agreement.

The members also made reference in their devolution rant to forest fire suppression, environmental remediation and employees. In fact, provisions in the devolution transfer agreement, at a minimum, were to meet all the requirements of the transfer as outlined in the workforce adjustment agreements between Treasury Board of Canada and the public service unions. We met and exceeded in many instances those agreements.

With respect to First Nations and the devolution transfer agreement, Mr. Speaker, at the risk of boring members opposite, to go back, there was an accord signed with respect to devolution — the Yukon territorial government, the Government of Canada, and Yukon First Nations — there was an accord that it could proceed. In fact, the Council of Yukon First Nations supports proceeding with devolution and has passed a resolution to that effect. Kwanlin Dun First Nation has publicly indicated they do not oppose devolution. Mr. Speaker, much has been made, and it is mentioned, of a potential challenge of devolution on May 13. I asked the Premier; I would ask all members of the Cabinet and indeed in the caucus if the government is prepared to share with them, on what basis did the Premier proceed with issuing a sole-source contract to negotiate an abeyance of that court challenge? What’s the abeyance? If there’s a legal opinion, if there’s an opinion, did anybody read it?

Mr. Speaker, the challenge is that the government and the suggestion that the government is going to improve and enhance somehow the devolution agreement — one has to ask the straightforward question: did anybody do their homework? It certainly appears that it wasn’t done.

I can’t imagine, because I heard the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin say that, at the end of the day, we want to look at ourselves and say, "Did we do the right thing for Yukoners? Did we do what we should do? Did we ask the tough questions?"

If the tough questions had been asked before this throne speech was delivered in this House, the answers are right there. This kind of devolution-bashing, which is a bashing of a legally binding agreement — does this government intend to live up to it or not? We don’t know, Mr. Speaker. The members opposite spoke about creating a climate of certainty. That kind of devolution-bashing does not create a climate of certainty. How would a member feel if they were a transferring federal government employee?

The uncertainty created by the government’s comments is more than just unfortunate; it’s not doing the job they were elected to do. And nobody said it was easy. It’s certainly not. It’s a job worth doing, as is implementing, in the fairest and best possible way. Just as the members want to make the Umbrella Final Agreement a living, working document, I challenge them to do the same with the devolution agreement. If they’re so proud of it, as they are in Ottawa, why aren’t they proud of it at home? Why don’t they, as a government, stop and say, "Hats off to you. You concluded something." And now try to make sure that it works, because it can work.

There is talk in here about the other issue of the Yukon Act, and I was asked repeatedly by the Member for Klondike to mount a constitutional court challenge to the Yukon Act. The Member for Porter Creek North, with all due respect — if I might digress for a moment — spoke of order and decorum and spoke of how the previous Premier erred on Asi Keyi Park, how no government had the intestinal fortitude to deal with the trappers and, in the same breath, said it’s easier to ask the questions than to answer them.

I mean no disrespect to the Member for Porter Creek North. However, for information purposes, Asi Keyi was signed off by the government leader previous to myself and Jane Stewart. It was a land withdrawal executed by those individuals. The fact is that every government has had a great degree of the intestinal fortitude that it takes to put one’s name forward to start with. And before criticism is launched of a particular Cabinet decision, take the time to read the briefing notes and ask why, because maybe there’s information the member has not yet learned that’s not in the public domain.

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you offer a criticism. To me, that is what order and decorum is about. Fair criticism is fair criticism. Fair questions are fair questions. We are expected by voters to be true to our word and to live up to our promises, and I’m sure every member starts out to do that.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the throne speech, there was also discussion of achieving a balance between the economy and the environment, and there are two points that are particularly of interest in this section of the throne speech.

On January 31, there is reference to the establishment of the boundaries of Fishing Branch. There’s no mention, however, of the media release that was issued at the same time, which indicates that the mine owner has some particular concerns that are not yet resolved. Somehow that important point has been left out of the throne speech.

There was also discussion of the recent decision by the Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with respect to the Yukon placer authorization. This is one particular issue that binds all Yukoners like none before it.

You’d be hard pressed to find a Yukoner who doesn’t recognize the value and importance — and I know there have been endless letters to the editor and exchanges, but the fact is that placer mining is our mining industry and it’s the last one we’ve got left at the moment — prior to the Emerald mines expansion, of course. It’s very, very important to us. It’s 100 plus year tradition in this territory. We were the first government to fund the Klondike Placer Miners Association as a non-government organization — fund them to a degree as we did the Yukon Chamber of Mines. I would encourage the government to enhance that funding. The Klondike Placer Miners Association is in the fight of its life. They need the government and Yukoners’ support, so walk the talk and increase the funding to them as an NGO.

If it’s some small comfort to members — we aren’t the only jurisdiction with problems with DFO. The answer given by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to those who live near Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba with respect to the drainage of the lake is reprehensible to say the least. So we aren’t the only folks having issues with the federal minister. I would encourage all members to support the Klondike Placer Miners Association in its efforts.

There is also mention in the environmental balance section about clean drinking water as being a resource that Yukoners treasure — and we do. I would like to take the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to thank the pages who religiously and carefully deliver us water all afternoon. They provide us with a reminder of just how important that is.

And I thank them. I know it can be an incredibly tedious task at times, and I appreciate their services. I know all members do.

Unfortunately, although we treasure clean drinking water, there’s no mention of rebuilding the Yukon’s water and sewer infrastructure. We’re not going to keep it clean if we don’t deal with the water and sewer issues that every single community in the Yukon faces in one way or another. The largest growing community in the Yukon, arguably the Marsh Lake-Tagish area — how are we going to deal with that? That’s an incredible resource, and I know every member has spoken about the beauty of their own riding, and I feel that way about the entire Yukon.

I applaud the initiatives with respect to waste oil and the promotion of recycling. I’m anxious to see actually what those initiatives are, Mr. Speaker.

I have many more comments, Mr. Speaker, and I do have some time left. However, seeing the time being 5:55, I would now adjourn debate.

Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Porter Creek South that debate be now adjourned.

Debate on Motion No. 18 accordingly adjourned

Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House be now adjourned.

Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 5:55 p.m.

The following Sessional Papers were tabled March 4, 2003:

03-1-7

Ombudsman and Information and Privacy Commissioner 2001 Annual Report (Speaker Staffen)

03-1-8

Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation 2001 Annual Report (Lang)

03-1-9

Energy Solutions Centre Inc. 2001 Annual Report (Lang)