Whitehorse, Yukon

Tuesday, March 18, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:   I will now call this 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.

Introduction of visitors.

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iím tabling the government contracting summary report, by department, dated April 1, 2002, to December 31, 2002.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling a document entitled An Act to Amend the Public Service Act, whistle-blower legislation of the Second Session of the 30th Legislative Assembly.

Speaker:   Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the March 13, 2003 signing of an economic accord between the Premier of Yukon and the Premier of the Northwest Territories demonstrated bilateral cooperation;

(2) should producers decide to build the Mackenzie Valley pipeline before the Alaska Highway pipeline, will facilitate the development of northern Yukon oil and natural gas; and

(3) all Yukon and Northwest Territories workers and contractors will be able to take advantage of the jobs, education and training that will result from the construction of either or both of the pipelines; and

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to continue its efforts toward more cooperative arrangements with the Northwest Territories and the State of Alaska.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) a decision by the Yukon Party government to reduce public spending by more than $40 million in the 2003-04 fiscal year will have a serious negative impact on the territoryís economy, which will affect all Yukon communities;

(2) direct spending by public employees is a major contributor to the economic health and stability of every Yukon community; and

(3) cutbacks in government spending are already resulting in a loss of income for people who provide services to Yukon government departments, agencies or Crown corporations, particularly in the areas of auxiliary, casual and seasonal employment; and

THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to honour both the letter and the spirit of its commitment not to diminish any kind of workforce within the government in order to avoid any further erosion of the territoryís economy.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the Yukon Party made a public commitment to implement whistle-blower legislation in their campaign platform;

(2) the now Premier, when he was in opposition, asked the Yukon Liberal government to table whistle-blower legislation;

(3) on April 11, 2002, the Yukon Liberal government tabled whistle-blower legislation in the form of Bill No. 74, an Act to Amend the Public Service Act; and

THAT this House urges the current minister responsible for the Public Service Commission and his Cabinet to stop procrastinating and retable the whistle-blower legislation that already exists.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) two Cabinet ministers in the Yukon Party government owe large sums of money to the Yukon government because they have failed to pay back business loans;

(2) several private sector Yukon companies owe the Government of Yukon money because they have failed to pay back business loans;

(3) the Government of Yukon is currently enforcing a new policy that requires companies to pay back loans when they receive additional income;

(4) the Government of Yukon is allowing Cabinet ministers who recently received a pay raise and are therefore more able to pay back their loans to continue to be delinquent in their payments; and

(5) this has created a double standard, with Cabinet ministers receiving special treatment; and

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to enforce the same standard of payment on loans by garnisheeing the additional wages of Cabinet ministers who are not paying their debts.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Is there a ministerial statement?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re: Family and childrenís services, budget cuts

Mr. Fairclough:   My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Yesterday the minister took the unusual step of apologizing for what he called errors in a letter written by one of his senior departmental officials. Itís unfortunate that the minister has chosen to put the blame for his own decisions onto the backs of people who canít defend themselves in public.

Will the minister explain how he expects his department to absorb a cut of 22 percent in family and children's services in rural Yukon without any reduction in programs or personnel costs?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The issue before us today is the same as it was the day before and the day before when the member opposite questioned me in the House. Itís the issue of auxiliary on-call workers for the Government of the Yukon. When these employees are required, they will be called. If there is not a need for these employees, they will not be called. I reiterate once again for the member opposite: there have been no cuts in this area.

Mr. Fairclough:   Maybe the minister can crack open the budget book, turn to page 11-48, and heíll see the 22-percent decrease. Again, the minister was not able to explain to this House ó the ministerís own figures show an 80-percent drop in the number of families in rural Yukon that will receive family support services in the upcoming year.

The ministerís contention that this isnít a program cut and wonít result in personnel cuts simply defies all logic. So far, weíve been talking about family support services in rural Yukon, but these arenít the only job losses in this department, which the minister insists arenít job losses at all.

Will the minister tell us the status of the six Social Services employees here in Whitehorse who received notices last Friday that their services arenít wanted any longer, and does he expect us to believe that these cuts arenít cuts at all?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Once again, we have the member opposite misinterpreting the areas. Heís not correctly analyzing the documents he has before him, Mr. Speaker. That is not fair and not reasonable.

The whole Yukon, under the previous Liberal administration and under the previous NDP administration, suffered a tremendous decline in its economy. We have an exodus of people. The demands on our system are still there, but theyíre not at the same level they were previously. Our government is committed to meeting those demands.

Once again, I reiterate for the record: there have been no job cuts.

Mr. Fairclough:   Obviously this minister is into the blame game, and this is certainly a sign of weakness on his part. Mr. Speaker, apparently there is more than one senior official in this ministerís department who may be in error. It seems like everybody is in error except for the minister. Of course, this is the same minister who refuses to admit that he changed his mind about Macaulay Lodge. The bottom line is that the minister is taking food off peopleís table ó people who have served this government in auxiliary positions, some of them for over 10 years. Will the minister now admit his own errors and find some other way of meeting his budget reduction targets without taking away peopleís income?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The individuals in the employ of the Government of Yukon are auxiliary on-call. That is the job classification. If the member opposite wishes, I will undertake to get the Public Service Commission to give the member opposite a full and complete briefing on what auxiliary on-call stands for and what it means. Because, once again, the member is wandering all over and he is not correctly interpreting the information he has before him. There have been no job cuts.

Question re:  Devolution, potential staff layoffs

Mr. Hardy:   Mr. Speaker, I have a follow-up question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. It is interesting that you are speaking on behalf of him ó one minister speaks on behalf of the other but ó

Speaker:   Would the member please direct his comments through the Chair.

Mr. Hardy:   Sorry, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday I asked the minister about job losses that we know are happening in this government. In the ministerís response, he came back to the issue of job losses resulting from devolution. I want to make it clear that I am not talking about devolution, Mr. Speaker; I am talking about job losses that are happening ó period. Let me start by asking the minister the same question that my colleague asked the Minister of Health yesterday. According to this government, when is a job cut not a job cut?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Thatís kind of a loaded question, I would say: when is a job cut not a job cut? I donít know.

Mr. Hardy:   Mr. Speaker, I would advise the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission to learn when a job cut is not a job cut, maybe learn when a job is a job or when hours that are cut affect a personís livelihood and, from their viewpoint, consider it a job; because that has to be sorted out right away. The minister responsible for the Public Service Commission must understand this. So my recommendation is that he does a little bit of his homework right now.

The information the minister sent to me on February 6 showed a total of 351 positions in Health and Social Services listed as auxiliary, seasonal or on-call as of last December 31. That means 351 Yukoners derive their family income, in whole or in part, from working for this department. Will the minister tell us the dollar amount this department paid out in these categories during the current fiscal year and the dollar amount estimated for the specific categories in the fiscal year 2003-04?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Obviously I donít have all the expenses of the government up here in my mind, but I could have a legislative return brought to the member opposite with regard to that question.

Mr. Hardy:   I hope that the legislative return comes over to this side a lot sooner than the other requests that I made about the vacancies. The ministerís letter showed 4,307 positions with YTG departments ó the letter that I initially received a few weeks ago. Agencies and Crown corporations were also included as of last December 31. Approximately 200 more federal employees are due to join the YTG workforce in approximately two weeks. This government is cutting its spending by $41 million in the coming year. Using the standard economic multiplier, thatís over $240 million less money circulating in the Yukonís economy next year, yet the minister wants us to believe that they wonít take the food off any Yukon tables, though weíre hearing differently already. Letís stick with jobs this government apparently doesnít consider jobs. What is the total dollar amount that will be paid out in the categories of auxiliary, seasonal or on-call in the current fiscal year, and what amount is estimated for these categories for the fiscal year 2003-04?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Again, I think thatís kind of a question that I wonít be able to answer at this point in time. I believe that devolution has to take place before we actually would really know what is going to transpire out of that devolution process.

Question re:  Dempster lateral pipeline

Ms. Duncan:   I am pleased to rise today to ask the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources his first question in the Legislature. It is concerning the governmentís position on pipeline development. The minister brought forward a motion today.

In opposition, as a member of both the NDP and the Yukon Party benches, the now Premier took the position that the Dempster lateral pipeline should flow south to connect with an Alaska Highway pipeline. The Premierís position and the Government of Yukonís position have changed. They now believe that the Dempster lateral should go north to connect with a proposed Mackenzie Valley line. Itís something like the membersí opposite federal cousin, Stockwell Day, who couldnít decide which way the Niagara River flowed, south or north.

Iíd like to ask the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources: does the Government of Yukon support the construction of a Dempster lateral pipeline heading northeast to Inuvik or south to connect with an Alaska Highway pipeline?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   We work with the opportunities that we have in the pipeline industry. We donít want to commit ourselves to the sense of being in a position of being committed to one or the other. We are going to work with whatever pipeline comes along. If the northern pipeline, the Mackenzie, goes down, we want access to that pipeline.

Certainly we are working for the Alaska Highway pipeline. In a perfect world, that would come first. But, in fact, it looks like the Mackenzie pipeline will come first, and at that point we are going to work with the Mackenzie pipeline on our northern gas reserves and hopefully get it to market sooner than later.

Ms. Duncan:   What I heard the minister state is that he supports both, so I would invite the minister to table correspondence ó for example, with the Minister of Natural Resources Canada and withdrawal of the Dempster corridor and that sort of information ó to ensure the public is aware of both sides of the support.

I have a further question with respect to pipeline development. I would like to ask the governmentís position with respect to the over-the-top proposed pipeline development. The Alaskan Legislature opposes this development. The Berger inquiry of the 1970s ruled it out for very good, very sound environmental reasons ó in fact ruled it out categorically. Most of the private sector concedes that they do not support burying billions of dollars of an asset under sea ice thatís inaccessible most of the year ó accessible maybe for 10 days of the year. Yukoners oppose it for environmental and economic reasons ó flatly oppose the over-the-top route for environmental and economic reasons.

What is the Government of the Yukonís position on a proposed over-the-top pipeline route?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   We agree with the member. We, as a government, are against the over-the-top pipeline.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate the ministerís eagerness to agree with me. Itís kind of a first in this Legislature.

With respect to the further pipeline development, the Alaska Highway pipeline, there has been a great deal of talk about incentives in Washington for the Alaska Highway pipeline. These are similar incentives that were paid in Canada for Hibernia and Sable Island. Previously, the Yukon government supported these incentives. They are repayable by the business community. The Government of Northwest Territories did not; in fact, they lobbied extensively in Washington against these incentives.

What is the Government of Yukonís current position on repayable tax incentives in Washington to support the construction of the Alaska Highway pipeline? And I would invite the minister again, if he is indicating that the Government of Yukon supports these incentives, to table what they have done. Has the minister written to Governor Murkowski? Has he re-engaged a lobbyist in Washington? If they support these incentives, what have they done?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   The producers are going to dictate that, and we really donít have much to say about that. Do we support them? I guess what weíre working on is a pipeline down the Alaska Highway, so the producers are going to look for the best advantage. Are we going to write a letter to Washington? No, weíre not going to write a letter to Washington at the moment. If the producers ask us to write a letter to Washington, we might write a letter to Washington but, at the moment, we have not communicated with Washington.

Question re:  Family and childrenís services, budget cuts

Mr. McRobb:   My question today is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The minister and his colleague who is responsible for the Public Service Commission have gone to great lengths to explain why it isnít a job cut when someone is told their services wonít be needed any longer. Thatís exactly what has happened to the family support workers in Mayo and Pelly Crossing.

Will the minister confirm that the family support worker in Haines Junction has also been notified that the budget cuts apply to that position?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Once again, for the record, the positions the member opposite is referring to are auxiliary on-call, by and large. There have been no cuts. In fact, with respect to Pelly Crossing, our government is enhancing the services by providing a higher, more qualified individual to meet the demands of that community. The department is out recruiting right now to fill that requirement.

So, with respect to cuts, there are none, Mr. Speaker. We, as a government, are addressing the needs, and the issue of auxiliary on-call is exactly that. These individuals are called in when required and will continue to be called in, when and if required.

Mr. McRobb:   That is insulting to my constituents ó especially the people losing their jobs. No matter how the members opposite try to spin it, auxiliary workers who provide family support services in rural Yukon are taking a hit. I will be very interested in watching how many hours and how many dollars these auxiliary on-call workers log next year compared to this year, and Iíll guarantee it that our researchers will be on that statistic.

According to the departmentís own statistics, the number of families in rural Yukon that are expected to receive family support services will drop from 40 in the current year to only eight in the coming year. Can the minister tell us, are all communities that now have family support workers affected by this drop, or are there any exceptions?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our government is committed to meeting the demand and will continue to meet the demand. The issue is auxiliary on-call workers, and these individuals will be called and their services will be required from time to time and they will be engaged and they will be utilized and they will be tasked with addressing their respective responsibility. So there is no shortage of services being provided in this area, and there have been no job cuts and our government is adamant about that. There have been no job cuts in this budget.

Mr. McRobb:   The minister did not answer the question. We did not hear the minister identify any communities in this territory who are affected by these job cuts. He did not identify any communities in the territory.

A few days ago in response to another question, the minister explained that the pecking order for services first goes to Whitehorse, then Watson Lake and Dawson City. How convenient, Mr. Speaker. According to the departmentís figures, there is no drop in the number of Whitehorse families that will receive family support services in the coming year. Can the minister tell us now: will there be any reduction in the family support services available to either Watson Lake or Dawson City in the coming fiscal year?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, Iím very uncomfortable with the member opposite referring to a pecking order for the services we provide. Our government is committed to providing a consistent high level of service across all of Yukon. We have done that in the past and we will continue to do so in the future. Now, in some areas, the demands are such that we have full-time employees. In other areas, there are auxiliary on-call workers. Those workers will be engaged by the department when the demand exists. There have been no job cuts; there has been no priority setting as to what communities may or may not receive the services. Everyone is treated as equally as possible by this government, and that will continue to be done.

Question re:  Security in public buildings

Mrs. Peter:    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Justice regarding security at the Andrew A. Philipsen Law Centre. Will the minister explain how the cutback in hours for YTG security personnel will affect evening and weekend security coverage at the Law Centre?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Mr. Speaker, Iím not aware of what the member is alluding to.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, at a time when security of public buildings is increasing in many parts of the world, this government is reducing security. Iíd like to follow up with a question to the Minister of Highways and Public Works. It is my understanding that security coverage of YTG buildings is being reduced by something like 56 person hours per week. Will the minister tell us if this reduction in hours will affect permanent employees or does it apply only to casual employees?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The member opposite asked the question whether it affects permanent staff. There is no effect on permanent staff. Our reductions are based on no effect to our current, full-time staff.

Mrs. Peter:   There seems to be a very interesting pattern emerging here. The side opposite insists there are no job cuts in any YTG workforce category, but that seems to depend on what you mean by "workforce." Apparently on-call jobs arenít jobs to this government. It looks as if casual jobs arenít jobs either. In the minds of ordinary people, losing your paycheque, or a significant part, amounts to the same thing as a job loss. It means that food is being taken off your table.

Will the minister tell us the dollar amount paid to casual employees in his department during the current fiscal year and the amount estimated for the casual employees, including security personnel in the year 2003-04?

Speaker:   I presume that was to the Minister of Infrastructure.

Mrs. Peter:   Yes.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I guess we could provide an estimate in answer to the members oppositeís question with regard to what we provided in the 2002-03 budget when we get it from the Auditor General and it is confirmed.

Question re:  Job cuts

Mr. Cardiff:   I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. The O&M budget for his department shows a two-percent reduction in information and communications technology, a two-percent reduction in the transportation division, and an eight-percent reduction in supply and services, which includes a 30-percent reduction at the Queenís Printer. How many jobs will be directly affected by these budget cuts?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   None.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, Mr. Speaker, the personnel line in each one of these divisions shows a negative number. The personnel spending is being reduced, and thatís a fact. Thereís also a five-percent cut in French adult language instruction. Now, it defies logic that the cutbacks in these categories wonít have an impact on the people who provide these services, and this doesnít even take into account contract negotiations that are going on now with government employees.

Will the minister explain how his department is going to achieve these cuts in the personnel budget without affecting peopleís jobs?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iíll reiterate my answer. None of the jobs will be affected.

Mr. Cardiff:   We seem to have a lot of trouble getting this government to spell out exactly what it means by a job. Again, when is a job not a job, and when is job loss not job loss?

Weíll try one more approach here. The Department of Highways and Public Works will be spending $10 million less on capital projects in the coming fiscal year. Using the multiplier, thatís approximately $60 million taken out of circulation in the Yukonís economy. In the transportation division alone, the cut is $10 million. So how much less does the transportation division expect to pay out to seasonal employees across the Yukon this summer, and how many fewer seasonal workers will the department be employing?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, these jobs will be let out in the private sector and for the majority of these jobs, that is where they will be taken from.

Question re:  Whistler-blower legislation

Mr. Hardy:   I have a follow-up question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. In the past few weeks we have seen some disturbing things on the floor of this Legislature. We see ministers delve into individual personnel matters without any caution. We see ministers contradict senior government officials who arenít in a position to defend themselves. Does the minister agree that public servants who speak out in good conscience should be protected from reprisals?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   To the best of my knowledge I believe that our government has some very good policies in place that do protect the workers.

Mr. Hardy:   There is nothing preventing this minister from directing the Public Service Commission to fast track the process of developing whistler-blower legislation, especially since the previous government had already done some work in that area. Interestingly enough, the minister hasnít yet even referred to the work that has already been done there, and I have to question why. Does he know about it and, if he doesnít, I would advise the minister to get briefed on this. However, will the minister make a commitment to direct the Public Service Commission to bring forward draft legislation by this fall to protect government employees who expose wrongdoing within the government?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I thank the member opposite for all the advice he is giving me ó it is sure helping me a lot. I would have to say that this isnít the first time I would be saying in this Legislature that the process is still ongoing. Thank you.

Mr. Hardy:   Thatís a nice excuse ó it doesnít work.

This has been on the public agenda in the territory for approximately two years now, and there really is nothing preventing this minister from acting decisively and boldly, even if it means stepping outside of the boundaries that the rest of Canada may be in, as the minister has used previously in an excuse.

However, once again, will this minister give directions ó very clearly, give directions ó to make whistle-blower protection a reality without any further delays?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Again, I will say that Iím not responsible for what went on in this Legislature in the past. I have been in this position for three months, and if someone couldnít complete this in two years plus, how does the member opposite expect me to have something on the table here in three months?

I said before that this is an issue that our government will be dealing with, and we have four years to complete it.

Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed.

Notice of government private membersí business

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(7), Iíd like to identify the items standing in the name of the government private members to be called on Wednesday, March 19, 2003. They are Motion No. 36, standing in the name of the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin, and Motion No. 32, standing in the name of the Member for Southern Lakes.

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

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Do the members wish a recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   We will now recess for 15 minutes.

Recess

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Weíll now continue on with general debate on Bill No. 24, Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act.

Bill No. 24 ó Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act ó continued

Ms. Duncan:   Iím pleased to rise to discuss this mirror legislation, the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, that is before Committee of the Whole. The mirror legislation that weíre dealing with, including this act, is legislation that Yukon was asked to pass, and itís called mirror because itís virtually the same as the federal laws, so this Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act is the same as the federal legislation, as is currently the Government of Canadaís legislation. Changed in this act before us in the Yukon is that any references to federal institutions, positions or laws are revised to the appropriate Yukon position, the Yukon institution, the Yukon law.

So, if there was a reference in the federal law to "federal" Cabinet minister, the reference has changed to "Yukon". The language has also changed as Yukon wished to reflect more modern conventions that currently are in place, and we also in the Yukon are very concerned and conscious of ensuring that our legislation is not gender specific so that references are true to modern convention and to Yukon standards.

The discussion that the Premier and I were having before we adjourned debate yesterday was with respect to the administration of lands in the Yukon as administered under this Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act. The Yukon Party government has indicated that there is a deficiency in the Yukon act and likewise in this mirror legislation. With respect to, and I quote from the budget speech "Öthe failure to recognize the Crown in right of Yukon that would grant the ownership of land and resources to the territoryÖ" Now in our discussion yesterday I noted that the Premier, in the mirror legislation, the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, the reference to "Crown" is omitted because the Yukonís equivalent is the Government of Yukon.

I asked the Premier repeatedly, many times, to explain to Yukoners, in laymanís terms, what this Crown in right of Yukon really means and how this reference was going to be dealt with. The Premier has failed to explain that, and I will be asking him again today, as we carry on in general debate, to explain what the Crown in right of Yukon question is.

In our lengthy debate yesterday, the Premier did not indicate how much the taxpayers of Yukon would be expending in resolving this question, Mr. Chair. In other words, the Premier said in-house legal counsel, by and large, maybe. There was no sense of whether or not additional outside legal counsel would be sought on this question.

For example, what Iím trying to determine from the Premier in this Crown-in-right question is whether or not it is the governmentís intention in resolving this ó because they mentioned it in the budget speech ó to hire a constitutional legal expert and, if so, at what price?

The more important question in all of this is: what is this question about Crown in right of Yukon?

The mirror legislation before us, the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, deals with care and control, management of the land. What the act says is that Cabinet ó the government members opposite ó can transfer land. They can say, "Yes, this should be developed; no, this should not be developed." Thatís what devolution was all about. This is what the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act is all about. It allows Cabinet to transfer the administration of lands in different acts. It doesnít apply to land that is titled to third parties. So it doesnít apply to people outside of the government who own land and it doesnít apply to settlement land. It applies to territorial lands, things like timber cutting, the establishment of land management zones and regulations, setting aside territorial lands for public purposes ó like schools, churches, cemeteries, towns, boundary expansions of our hamlets and our communities. It also authorizes the acquisition of lands for right-of-way by railways, by power companies and pipelines and, of course, as I mentioned, timber as well.

So, what this lands act will do is enable the Government of Yukon to deal with all aspects of the land ó the control of the land. Thatís the issue for Yukoners ó who controls the land.

What the Premier has not explained is that this Crown in right of Yukon question could be interpreted as ownership. Thatís the concept underlying the Crown. After this lands act is passed and post-April 1, Yukon will have the same jurisdiction and the same authorities enjoyed by Canada with respect to issuing permits, titles and leases. Weíll control public land. Thatís what the Yukon will do when this act is passed and after devolution.

What the Premier is pursuing is this question that even he canít define on the floor of this Legislature. He cannot define for Yukoners what this Crown in right of Yukon question is, what it has to do with the land, and why the government is pursuing it.

As best I can determine, because members of the Yukon Party ó both the Member for Klondike and the Member for Watson Lake ó used to stand on the floor and ask me to pursue this. This question, Crown in right of Yukon, relates to, in some part, ownership. So the public lands remain vested in Her Majesty of Canada. Itís difficult to explain, and I think thatís why the Premierís having such trouble, because the average Yukoner doesnít understand the question, doesnít understand why the Premier would be spending money pursuing it, and the Premier canít explain it when I ask why he is pursuing this question.

As I understand it, and Iíve done a little bit of study on this particular question because I was asked it before, itís whether the Government of Yukon would exercise the prerogatives of the Crown. What does that mean? What Yukoners care about is, can I get a land permit; can the pipeline get a right-of-way; if thereís a railway built, can they get a right-of-way; can you get a timber-cutting permit, and are the settlement lands protected? Yes, to all of those questions. So what Iím trying to get from the Premier in this Committee of the Whole debate relating to territorial lands is, why is he pursuing this question and what is this question and whatís the cost to the Yukon taxpayers of pursuing it?

The question I would also like to follow up on today, if I get answers to those questions, is what is the downside? Whatís the unintended consequence of pursuing this?

Provinces and the other two territories supported devolution and supported Yukonís efforts toward devolution under the Ostashek, McDonald and Duncan governments because they believed ó and support in part from the Bloc Québécois was certainly conditional upon. This is not a constitutional amendment. This is not provincehood by the back door. Weíll have all the rights and authorities needed to further the Yukon and to further the economic development, but we are not taking Canada into another constitutional debate for which there is absolutely no appetite.

The unintended consequence of the Premier pursuing this particular question may be just that ó a constitutional debate ó and then what? All of that support from every other province and territory and every single party in the House of Commons ó Bloc Québécois, the various hybrids of the Alliance, Progressive Conservatives, of course the Liberal government, the NDP. They all supported devolution and supported the Yukon Act as it was written, as it passed.

It gives me a great deal of concern to think that the Premier has not considered the unintended consequences of his actions and his governmentís actions in pursuing this.

So my questions, again, for the Premier, when he rises on his feet, are to outline why the government is pursuing this Crown-in-right question and what, fundamentally, the question is. How does the Premier ó how do members opposite explain in their ridings door to door ó if theyíre going to go door to door in the other half of Porter Creek, in Laberge and in Pelly-Nisutlin and all through the territory ó when members opposite go door to door, how do they explain this question to Yukon voters? How is it to be explained?

What Yukoners care about and what they ask is: can I do what is necessary to further the Yukon economy on the land? Will the government have the ability to transfer the land? Will the government be able to say, "Yes, by all means, cut that timber; work with the First Nation government in furthering economic development on settlement land." Do all of these things ó will the pipeline be able to get a right-of-way? Will the government be able to do all these things?

The answer to that question ó which is the question that voters are asking at the door ó is yes. Yes, we will have all the authorities that one can imagine. We will have all of them. So what is the question the Premier is asking legislative counsel, and who knows who else ó a constitutional expert, perhaps, of a law firm somewhere in Canada ó what is the question being asked? At what price? What is the time frame on this? Most importantly, what are the unintended consequences?

What are the unintended consequences of asking this question? The Premier has made much of this question in both the throne speech and in the budget speech, and I believe these questions need to be fully answered, and/or the Premier needs to indicate heís prepared to stand down on this question, because he has given consideration to the unintended consequences. He has heard from colleagues across Canada that the devolution deal is a good one. Certainly, his colleague in the Northwest Territories is very interested in our devolution agreement and, of course, in the mirror legislation.

We agreed to pass the mirror legislation, as it stands, and the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act is a good piece of legislation. It does mirror what we were asked to do in the federal ó and most importantly, it gives us the ability, when it comes to land, to pursue economic development opportunities. It gives us care, control and management of the land, and thatís the most fundamental and important point ó management of the land.

It doesnít give us care and control over the national parks either, Mr. Chair, which is understandable, I suppose.

The fact is that this is a good piece of legislation. The side opposite asked that it be passed expeditiously in the House, and weíre prepared to do that. The members opposite also indicated they were prepared to do this in a collaborative effort and be cooperative in the House. I would encourage the Premier, when he rises to his feet, to answer the questions, to outline very clearly what the precise question is that is being posed to legislative counsel in-house, what outside counsel is being asked to provide advice on this question, at what price, and when they are prepared to ensure this answer is provided. The member has indicated he will table it in the House and provide it to me and to members opposite, which I look forward to.

Chair:   Ms. Duncan, you have two minutes.

Ms. Duncan:   Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I was just reviewing the questions that I would like the Premier to address when he rises to his feet. What is the question with regard to Crown in right in simple, straightforward terms? What is the question that is being asked? What legislative counsel are being used in-house, and if so how many hours and, if it is outside counsel, at what price? How much is the Premier prepared to spend on this? When the Premier has indicated he will provide the response, I would like to know when and I would like to know if the Premier has given full and due consideration to the unintended consequences of his pursuit of this action?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I guess the question I would have is this: does the leader of the third party have any amendments for this bill, because it certainly sounds like it. We just spent 20 minutes listening to the member go on and on and on about a question. Well, the question is simple. Does the Crown in right in the Yukon exist? That is the question, very simple. In-house legal people are addressing this right now. That is the answer in that regard. Unintended consequences ó the member is speculative. There are no unintended consequences. We are merely, as a government, in the best interests of the Yukon public, finding out whether or not this long-standing question in the Yukon Territory in regard to a Crown in right exists. There is nothing too complicated about this. I know the member wanted to fill the camera time and that is fine. We donít have a problem with that, but we want to be constructive in our debate and we went over this yesterday at great length, over and over and over and over.

Let me recap the answers as the member has recapped her questions. What is the question? The long-standing question: whether a Crown in right of Yukon exists. Who is doing the work? In-house legal people, lawyers. Theyíre being paid each and every day. They are doing the work. Thereís no cost to the taxpayer here other than what was already there. There are no unintended consequences. We are, on behalf of the Yukon public, going to get an answer to whether the Crown in right exists or not.

Beyond that, I donít really see what it is the member was going on and on about. Itís a pretty simple thing; itís about governance. Itís about ownership versus management only. The Crown-in-right question has been a question on Yukonersí minds for a long, long time, probably since the Epp letter. Thatís when the question began; itís still here today. And we as a government are taking the prudent course of action and are going to get advice from our legal people in regard to this question of Crown in right, and thatís all there is. Thereís nothing untoward here. Thereís nothing thatís going to affect the devolution transfer agreement. Thereís nothing thatís going to trigger a constitutional question. None of these things are at play. Itís a simple in-house procedure to provide the government advice so we can be a little more informed on a question that all Yukoners have been asking for a long, long time. And thatís it.

As far as the mirror legislation, in particular the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, there is no bearing on this act, there are no amendments because of this. Thereís nothing. This is mirror legislation giving us the authority to take down federal powers on April 1.

Itís mirror legislation because that is what is demanded of us under the devolution transfer agreement. Itís done. Itís here before us. Weíre in Committee. If there are any items the member opposite sees in this particular bill ó and the member opposite knows full well the content of this bill, because she was probably very much involved in its various stages, has had it presented to her in different capacities, whether in opposition or as a government leader or Premier ó are there any amendments, are there any issues? If not, then I would suggest, in the best interests of the Yukon taxpayer, that we advance this bill and get on to the next one.

Ms. Duncan:   I thank the Premier for the answer and I would say that it is in the best interests of the Yukon taxpayer that we not proceed on this question, which the Premier still has not explained.

Does the Crown in right of Yukon exist? Thereís a crown on the end of the mace, yes, and itís a symbol of the Crown, itís a symbol of the authority of the Yukon. It doesnít take a constitutional lawyer to figure that one out.

The Premier said, very interestingly, that nothing is going to trigger anything in the courts. The minister is presupposing the answer, then, because if he gets an answer back from his legal people to the question of what does it mean and does the Crown in right of Yukon exist and if the answer is yes, then the Premier is satisfied. If the answer is no, the logical question and the question that his colleague to his far left ó right in the political spectrum ó asked repeatedly is: will the government take it to court? Will they reference the issue to court?

Now, the Premier has said no, they wonít. Then why are we asking for a legal opinion?

Why is the member pursuing it? The member asked if I have a constructive amendment. Absolutely, I have constructive advice. Have the legal counsel work on whistle-blower legislation, which was a party commitment ó theyíve already drafted it once ó and end wasting their time on this constitutional question, which has unintended consequences for us that are very negative.

The Premier asked for constructive advice; Iím offering it. Iím also asking the Premier to accept that advice. Iím asking the Premier to reconfirm, also ó he said that no matter what the answer he gets on the legal opinion, he is not going to trigger a question to the constitutional court. Will he confirm that no matter what legal opinion he gets back, he will not trigger the court case?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, I take the member oppositeís advice under advisement. I thank the member for her advice, but we did commit to look into this. Thatís what weíre doing. We will act in a manner that is in the best interests of Yukoners, whatever that may be within the confines of what we are able to do as a Yukon government. There is a particular bill before us here that is up for debate. This is mirror legislation. Itís a very simple piece of legislation in terms of the fact that itís an exact copy of what has been in place in the Yukon under the federal regime for decades. We are here to pass this particular legislation and ensure its assent so that on April 1, the Yukon can take down management and control of Northern Affairs programs. Beyond that, this question that the member is hung up on is nothing more than an attempt for political grandstanding, Mr. Chair. There is absolutely ó

Chairís statement

Chair:   Order please. I will ask the member to refrain from inputing false or unavowed motives to another member.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   It is an attempt for what motivation this side of the House just simply cannot ascertain or determine. This is a very simple exercise, not difficult at all, and the legal people are doing their job ó that is why they are there to provide government legal advice. They are providing the government advice on this particular question and they provide the government advice on all other kinds of issues and other questions. So I will take the memberís suggestions under advisement. We are proceeding and I guess the next question is if weíre proceeding with this bill and putting it through Committee as we should be.

Ms. Duncan:   With all due respect to the member opposite, I didnít put this issue on the table. The member opposite has put it on the table not only as a former individual on this side of the House but twice in his capacity as Premier: once in a throne speech and once in the budget speech. He has indicated that the Government of Yukon is pursuing this Crown in right of Yukon issue. It relates specifically to this mirror legislation the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, because in the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act the interpretation, the comments, the briefing material that everybody has seen says section 1 omits "Crown". Yukonís equivalent is Commissioner or Government of Yukon, depending on the circumstances. So it is entirely relevant to this debate that I would be raising this Crown-in-right question because (a) it is a commitment of the Premier, not once but twice; and (b) it directly relates to this mirror legislation the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act

To go back, the real issue for Yukoners is who controls the land, who can do what with the land. Thatís the real issue for Yukoners. When weíre on their doorsteps, Yukoners ask us questions. They ask, "Why canít I get land at the lake? Why canít I buy a cottage lot? Why canít I get access? Does the pipeline have a right-of-way? What does category A and B on settlement land mean?" Land is near and dear to Yukonersí hearts. It was the 1978 slogan for the Yukon Party ó "Land for all Yukoners". It has been everybodyís slogan.

Land is near and dear to our hearts, and those are the questions Yukoners ask: how do I own land? How do I deal with land? How do I build that cottage or the cabin at the lake? With this act, the Yukon government can deal with it; the Yukon government can do that.

Now, related to that, thereís this Crown in right. What does it mean? In constitutional law and in constitutional briefings Iíve attended and discussions Iíve had, itís the concept of ownership. So, the Government of Canadaís view is, if we reference this Crown issue, itís going to require constitutional amendment. There is no appetite in this country for constitutional discussion. Thereís no support.

So, do you take ownership? Do you take management and control? Do you take the ability to transfer land? Do you take the ability to do all this stuff, or do you take years and years of constitutional wrangling? Iíll take previous governments; Yukoners will take devolution; theyíll take the lands.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, Iíd like to beg the indulgence of the House and introduce Wayne Jim, a former Member of this Legislative Assembly, and ask all members to welcome him to this House.

Applause

Ms. Duncan:   Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I thank the Member for Klondike for making that introduction.

The fact is, weíre discussing this Crown-in-right question that the Premier has been unable to fully explain. The Premier has said that he would take the advice that I offered of letting legal counsel do other work and leave this question be for some time, and the Premier said, "Thanks for the advice but we committed to this and we made a promise." Well, the Premier has broken other promises before. I donít understand why the Premier could not freely accept that advice in the spirit with which it was offered and say they will not put that forward. I appreciate ó

Some Hon. Member:   Mr. Chair, point of order.

Point of order

Chair:   Mr. Jenkins, on a point of order

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, pursuant to Standing Order 19(c), Rules of Debate, the member opposite is persisting in needless repetition.

Chair:   Member for Porter Creek South, on the point of order.

Ms. Duncan:   On the point of order, needless repetition would imply that a question had been answered. In fact, the question has not been answered, which is the point I was getting to. It is not needlessly repeating. Iím asking a question to which I deserve an answer in general debate.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   There is no point of order. I find this to be a dispute between members.

Ms. Duncan:   Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the opportunity to continue.

Again, I would ask the Premier to indicate, on the floor of this House, that he is prepared to set aside the request of the legal counsel to pursue this ill-defined question and focus his energies and the energies of the government on fully implementing the mirror legislation and the devolution transfer agreement.

Will the Premier set aside asking legal counsel this question?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, Mr. Chair, letís get down to brass tacks here. We have answered this question now for two days, over and over and over and over and over. Of course weíre going to answer it in laymanís terms. Weíre not lawyers. Thatís why the legal officials of the government are looking at the question to provide what would be a journeymanís response to the issue of Crown in right of the Yukon.

So we have answered the question, over and over and over.

Secondly, no, the government is not going to stand down. This government is capable of doing more than one thing at a time, so we will get legal advice on the Crown-in-right issue among all the other things that we are undertaking today as we speak.

As far as the leader of the third party is concerned, this issue seems to have really agitated the member, and I think itís because the member opposite does not understand the issue of Crown in right. Because of that misunderstanding or not being able to grasp what the Crown in right is, it has now sparked this very acrimonious debate from the member opposite with this side of the House on a very simple piece of legislation called mirror legislation.

There is nothing in what the Yukon government is doing today in terms of the Crown-in-right question and getting advice from its own legal people on that question, as we committed to do, that will affect or impact the mirror legislation in any way ó nothing at all. We are merely seeking advice. Thatís what a prudent government would do. Thatís what a government that is living up to its responsibilities would do. This is an issue that is in the best interests of the Yukon public. Itís a question that has been around for a long time.

Now, the member says to stand down on this ó absolutely not. We are not standing down on this. So we can be here for the next month if the member would like, on this same question, but sooner or later, the Chair will have to rule, once Hansard is reviewed, that we are indeed contravening Standing Order 19(c) because of needless repetition. So the question has been answered. The further detail will be coming once the legal people within government have a chance to review it themselves and provide advice, as it should be.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate the member oppositeís attempt; however, I donít feel that the question Iíve asked has been answered. As for needless repetition and so on, I would invite the member opposite to review Hansard in the 12 days of larvicide debate from his colleague and a few other needless repetitions. The fact is that this is not needless repetition. Itís needless work on the part of the legal counsel ó the Government of Yukon. This is not a burning question for Yukoners.

Although the member finds the debate acrimonious and unnecessary, I believe it is necessary. I believe Yukoners should know how much itís going to cost them, how much time is going to be spent, on a question which the Premier cannot define.

The Premier comes back and says, well, legal counsel has been asked to put it in laymanís terms, so he can then go out to Yukoners and explain that this is what he has asked the legal people to do. If thatís what heís doing, why not just set it aside, leave it be and get on with devolution. Let legal people do other constructive work, because the Premier has also said that it doesnít matter what legal opinion weíre getting, weíre not going to take it to court; weíre not going to do anything with it.

So I have to ask, then: whatís the point in asking the question? The Premier canít define the question ó canít define it for Yukoners, canít define it for legal counsel and, in turn, is not prepared to do anything once he receives the legal opinion, other than share it with us. Whatís the point, when there are so many other constructive questions and so much other work to be done?

Iím asking the Premier again to reconfirm that there will be no taxpayersí money spent on any outside legal counsel ó confirm that there will be no outside constitutional law professors or constitutional lawyers or papers commissioned on this ó and further, that the Premier reconfirm that, no matter what the legal opinion is, he does not intend to reference this constitutional question to the courts.

Those two things ó

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan:   I believe the record will reflect that the Premier did not wish to answer that question. Could I then move on to the next question, leaving that on the record?

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Chair:   The hon. Premier, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The record should reflect that the questions have been answered over and over and over.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   The Chair finds that thereís no point of order. Thereís a dispute between members. Ms. Duncan.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, again, for the record, I would like to reflect that the question Iím asking the Premier is confirmation that there is to be no contract monies spent anywhere outside or inside the territory ó no taxpayersí dollars ó on a paper, a lawyer, a constitutional question, in putting this question, whatever it is, to outside sources ó that confirmation, so no outside counsel on this question. Secondly, I asked that the Premier confirm ó because he indicated it apparently in his earlier remarks ó that, no matter what the legal response or opinion he gets Ė because heís fixed on getting one Ė that he will not reference this question to the constitutional courts. I asked for that confirmation. The Premier does not want to answer them, so Iíll move on to my next questions.

The Crown-in-right question is one of the challenges, and it has to do with land and the lands. Offshore boundaries is also a question to do with lands, and the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act ó this is referenced. The boundaries are referenced in the Yukon act. Would the Premier define what the questions are with respect to the offshore boundaries?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Iíll go back to the erroneous, incorrect comments by the member opposite, leader of the third party, in regard to the Crown in right. The answer from this side of the House, repeated a number of times, is that this government will act in the best interests of Yukoners on the Crown-in-right question. Weíve defined it as a matter of governance. Itís the difference between just management governance or ownership. Weíve defined that; thatís laymanís terms. We are seeking further information that provides us a more detailed accounting of the question of Crown in right and whether or not it exists in the Yukon.

All those questions have been answered. What the member put on the record a few moments ago was erroneous, incorrect and really has no place in the debate. We, as a government, will act in the best interests of Yukoners on the Crown-in-right question.

When it comes to the offshore boundary issue, I think itís a well-known fact that that has been another long-standing issue for Yukoners, and it is becoming more heightened in these days of dramatic increase in oil and gas development in the Arctic. The Mackenzie Delta has shown to have a sufficient volume of resources and reserves that are very important to the Northwest Territories. So, too, then, the Yukon must be very focused on its offshore potential, and thatís what this issue is about.

What benefits will accrue to the Yukon public should something be discovered in what can be deemed or determined to be Yukonís offshore boundary? Itís important, because the importance is related to the need for growth, for benefit, for economic development, for investment ó all these things come into play.

So, the question around the north shore boundary is, what is it that we can garner in terms of benefit under the existing devolution transfer agreement and/or is there a way to improve on that with Ottawa to ensure that Yukoners will benefit should there be any discovery of oil, gas or whatever other particular resource may be there that, in time, could be a very large benefit to the Yukon public?

I would question the member opposite on what is the issue here. Any responsible, prudent government would look into this on behalf of its citizens because of what the future may hold. It could hold a significant return to the Yukon public if this question and issue is handled properly. So that, I guess, would be the answer, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Duncan:   I would like to follow up on the first part of the Premierís answer. He said that the points I stated were erroneous and incorrect, so I would like to ask the Premier to indicate what was erroneous. Is the government spending money on outside counsel? Am I incorrect in that the Premier is, in fact, spending money on outside counsel? Could the Premier outline what was erroneous there?

The other question I had ó the outside counsel was the first question ó the second question was the reference to the constitutional court. Is it the Premierís intention, once he receives a legal opinion, to pursue it or not? What was erroneous and incorrect there? I donít understand the Premier oppositeís answer.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, like a lot of the information this member brings to the floor of the House, this, too, is erroneous. I did answer the question and said that we would act as a government in the best interests of the Yukon public. I said that we are using in-house legal people to address the question. That was the answer. It was the answer yesterday and itís the answer today.

We defined the question, in laymanís terms, as best as we, who do not have legal knowledge of this particular issue ó we answered the question in the best possible way we could.

Beyond that, we said that we will conduct this review, get the information ó as we should be getting on this question ó and act in the best interests of the Yukon public. That has been the answer all along. When the member puts on the record that we did not answer the question, or that we were doing something other than what we are doing right now, it is erroneous, and thatís what Iím alluding to.

I know the member wants to stickhandle around this for awhile because, when in government, the member opposite went through great difficulties in Committee of the Whole ó she and her government did ó and I would assume some of that is reflected in the motivation here. However, thatís fine. We will continue to debate as long as it takes. Thereís only ó

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Chair:   Member for Porter Creek South, on a point of order.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I believe that the motivation here is, in a negative sense, casting aspersions on me, which is out of order.

Chair:   Mr. Jenkins, on the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Thereís no point of order. Thereís just a dispute between members.

Chairís statement

Chair:   Iíd ask that the members not speculate on each otherís motives. Iím also finding that language is becoming dangerously close to imputing false or unavowed motives, and I would like members to keep that in mind when making their responses.

Ms. Duncan:   Unfortunately, I have not received a full and complete answer. Iím asking if there has been any outside advice hired, outside of the legal counsel, or if it is the Premierís intention to hire any outside advice, outside of the legal counsel. The Premier says, "We have asked in-house legal counsel." But the Premier will not answer the question of if they have hired anyone else or if they intend to hire anyone else.

Will the government consider, or are they considering or have they considered ó are we only using in-house legal counsel on this question or is anyone else being contracted by the government to answer this question?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I will repeat again: we are using in-house legal people to provide us with advice. We will act in the best interests of the Yukon public. What more can we answer to this question? Yes, we are using internal sources. There is no cost to the taxpayer here that was not already there. These people are on the payroll. Every day, they are paid. They can either look out the window or they can do something and, today, we have asked them to give us a review of the question of whether a Crown in right exists in Yukon. The question has been answered over and over and over, but I will continue to provide the same answer as long as it takes.

Ms. Duncan:   Letís try a yes-or-no answer. Has anyone else in addition to in-house legal counsel been asked this question? Has anyone else ó yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Chair, essentially I have already answered that question, whether it be yes or no or not. I have said we are using in-house. To anybody out there, that would mean yes, that we havenít used anybody else, only in-house. There is nobody else who has been asked to address this question. But this is two days now of the same question from the member opposite with the same answers coming forward on a piece of mirror legislation. So, at a $1,000 per hour cost to the Yukon taxpayer, the member opposite has tried a multitude of angles to ask the same question, only to receive the same answer.

This member is accusing this side of the House of wasting taxpayersí money. Talk about a double standard, Mr. Chair. There is the waste ó two days of asking the same question. Two days, and the same answers have been coming forward, and there is no other answer to this question. So the real waste is on the opposite side of the House at $1,000 an hour.

Ms. Duncan:   Itís truly unfortunate that the member sees doing the publicís business as a waste of time. I donít consider it that, Mr. Chair. What the member opposite has finally stated for the record is that nobody else has been asked for a legal opinion on this issue. The Member for Klondike says "yet". Interesting.

The question that has not been answered is the question of "once the legal opinion has been received". The Premier has previously stated that it is not the governmentís intention to pursue this question further. Iíd ask him to answer that question, if he could do that. I would appreciate it if he would answer this question: is it his position that this legal question will not be pursued in the courts? Either it will be pursued or it wonít be pursued, and Iím asking which it is. Will the Premier confirm that the question of Crown in right will not be pursued in the courts?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Here we have the member first accusing this side of the House and myself of not being able to define the question. Then we have the member spending endless time, at $1,000 an hour cost to the taxpayer, getting the same answer to the same question with regard to who is providing legal advice. Over and over and over, we have said internally. Now, weíre being asked to determine whether there will be, beyond this, other possible options or venues or initiatives that may take place. Thatís a question based on the accusations coming from the member opposite that we, with our limited knowledge, according to the leader of the third party, could never answer anyway. So what Iíve said over and over and over is that we, the government, will act in the best interests of the Yukon public. Thatís the answer. It has been the same answer to this question over and over and over. We will act in the best interests of the Yukon public. I think that is fairly clear. Beyond that, we are getting the advice on a question regarding the Crown in right in Yukon. Once we get that advice, hopefully it will clear up the matter for all Yukoners.

Ms. Duncan:   My question is ó let me try this another way with the Premier, and perhaps this would bring the debate into focus. Best interests of Yukoners ó the Premier states that we will act in the best interests of Yukoners. What does that mean? Does that mean that the Premier intends to take this issue to the courts or not? The Premier is getting a legal opinion. In-house counsel only is providing the Premier with advice ó does the Premier intend to pursue that advice? Will he put the question to the courts? That is my question. Does the Premier consider the court to be in the best interests of Yukoners?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, this side of the House would certainly take a different definition of acting in the best interests of Yukoners than the member opposite did when in government, the shortest lived government in the history of the Yukon. That certainly was a clear example of not acting in the best interests of Yukoners, and on November 4, Yukoners responded in that regard.

We, on the other hand, will act in the best interests of Yukoners as a government, as we were elected to do. On this question, that is the answer. Iím not going to speculate. The government is not going to speculate on anything. Weíre here to act responsibly on behalf of the Yukon public, and thatís exactly what we intend to do. So on this question that the member has asked umpteen times, I will provide the same answer. We will act in the best interests of the Yukon public.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I find it interesting that when the Premier doesnít wish to answer a question or I hit a sensitive point, he makes personal attacks. Thatís not casting aspersions. The Premier stood on his feet and just said to me, oh, the shortest lived government and we didnít act in the best interest. So Iím responding to that and saying that was personal and it missed the point of the question.

The fact is that this Crown in right has been a Yukon Party ó specifically one or two members ó question. Itís not a question for Yukoners generally.

What Yukoners want is administration and control of Yukon resources held in the hands of Yukoners. They want to know that the person sitting upstairs is responsible. They vote for them or not, and they then sign off on water licences or not, or sign off on the transfer of land or not. Thatís what Yukoners want. Theyíre tired of holding the reins of a horse thatís 3,000 miles away ó that is the expression, I believe ó and tired of that control ó some person who runs in another jurisdiction and isnít answerable to the voters of Yukon having administration and control over the territory.

Yukoners want administration and control held by Yukoners and the issue is the control of land, not the underlying title, not the question of whether there is a Crown in right of Yukon. The question is management and control. That was resolved in the Yukon Act, it was resolved in the devolution transfer agreement, and it was resolved by the collective efforts of the Ostashek, McDonald, and Duncan governments ó thatís a fact.

What devolution and the Yukon Act do, and this mirror legislation does, is provide authority for the government disposition of resources. Yukon has the same jurisdiction ó or we will have after April 1 ó enjoyed by Canada with respect to issuing permits and titles. We will be able to control public land, sell it, transfer it and do whatever we want with it. It doesnít matter if it is a Yukon Crown or a federal Crown. It doesnít matter to Yukoners, and I have submitted over and over and over again that the Premier is wasting legislative counselís time, time that could be better spent developing legislation for Yukoners, which could be debated thoroughly. I asked him to stand down on it. He has refused. He has said that they will not spend ó and are not spending ó additional taxpayersí dollars on this and that no legal counsel outside of the in-house legal counsel has been asked this question. But his colleague, the Member for Klondike, said "yet". Will the Premier commit that, over the life of this government, it will only be in-house counsel used on this?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, I think we have to get to the facts here. In the recent election, part of the Yukon Partyís platform was this issue. We have been given a mandate. That mandate means that we must deliver, to the best of our ability, what we have committed to do.

This is one of those areas, so weíre getting the advice. Beyond that, weíll act in the best interests of the Yukon public. Thatís the answer. The question has been asked many times and the answer is the same. We will act in the best interests of the Yukon public, as we were elected to do.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, I would submit to the member opposite that the best interests of the Yukon public is spending money on necessary social services and health care services, on building roads and furthering the economic development of the territory, and not paying endless hundreds of thousands of dollars for outside legal counsel and others ó and who knows how many fees ó in submitting a question to the courts, if the Premier intends to do that or not.

Our government and the government previous to us were not prepared to submit this issue to the court. We were absolutely not prepared to. In all likelihood, the unintended consequence of that would have ended the provincial support for the Yukon Act and devolution.

The Yukon Party seemed bound and determined to pursue this ill-defined question and they say they are pursuing it in the best interests of Yukoners. There are a number of other platform commitments that the Premier has indicated ó well, not this term, not this mandate, and not yet. Why couldnít this question be one of them?

Why couldnít the Premier, upon taking office, recognizing that there is more information out there ó I would ask again: would the Premier redirect the in-house legal counsel, because he apparently has not asked anyone else, will he consider redirecting their efforts in setting aside the Crown-in-right question until another point in time, until we have given life and meaning to the Yukon Act as it has been passed, and the devolution transfer agreement? Will the Premier consider setting this aside?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Same question asked again, same answer. We will proceed as we have laid out. In fact, if we were to expedite the debate on the bill, it would get passed and be given assent. The legal counsel is working on many other fronts. This particular issue certainly hasnít hampered their abilities to do that, so weíre not putting any undue stress on the department and its people. They are very efficient people, with a great deal of capacity, and are more than capable of handling this question among the many others they must deal with on a daily basis.

So, can we proceed with debating this bill and moving it through Committee, or do we want to continue to ask and answer the same question?

Ms. Duncan:   Well, Mr. Chair, what I understood the Premier to say is that the government is not, at the moment, seeking any advice ó legal or otherwise ó other than in-house. The Premier has said he is only seeking in-house legal advice on this particular question.

He has not indicated if that commitment holds good for the life of the government or is good for today. The Premier has said ó in fact, his words were, nobody else has been asked ó and the other point that was made was, "yet", so there may or may not be more dollars and energies expended on this.

The Premier has not indicated, other than saying he will provide it to members opposite, whether or not he intends to further pursue this matter, whether or not he will seek a reference to the Yukon Court of Appeal under the Constitutional Questions Act. The Premier has not indicated whether or not he will pursue that. He has replied, instead, that they will act in the best interests of Yukoners.

So, Iíll ask the question this way: is a reference to the Yukon Court of Appeal under the Constitutional Questions Act in the best interests of Yukoners or not?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, that all depends on what the Crown-in-right question evolves into. In the best interests of Yukoners is what we committed to do, and thatís what we will do. Frankly, itís the same question, just asked a different way, and itís the same answer. We are receiving in-house legal advice on the Crown-in-right question, which has been a question on Yukonersí minds for decades. We are going to accept that advice, when it comes and, from that, as always, act in the best interests of the Yukon public. Weíre not going to speculate on what that outcome will be, or what the options may be, or whatever else may happen, because anything we say right now is speculation.

We havenít received the advice. We havenít received the information on the question of the Crown in right and whether it even exists. So, all this is, frankly, a waste of time and effort at a cost of $1,000 per hour to the Yukon taxpayer.

So I say to the member opposite, go ahead, waste all that money. But at the end of the day, the answer is that we will act in the best interests of the Yukon public.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, what the member has just said is that they havenít received the advice and his expression was, "Go ahead, waste all that money." I just wish the member, quite frankly, would hear what I am trying to say, which is that the Premier is wasting time, wasting money, wasting energy on this question ó wasting legal counselsí time on this question. Itís time that could be better spent on a myriad of legislative issues.

The answer is very clear. To be definitively answered ó and the member will get a legal opinion and he will provide it to us because he has committed to do so and I believe he will live up to his commitments, some of them ó itís going to require a reference to the Yukon Court of Appeal constitutional questions. So, what Iím not hearing from the member is just how far heíll go.

Itís unfortunate that the member is pursuing this particular commitment when there are many, many, many, many, many others that desperately need to be need to be fulfilled ó desperately. Itís unfortunate that the member has not been able to define the question thoroughly in laymanís terms so that all Yukoners can appreciate what he is trying to ask the legal counsel to define. Itís unfortunate that he will not commit publicly as to what the dollar figure will be of this pursuit.

And itís truly unfortunate that the Premier sees these questions as tiresome and a waste of money, because I donít believe they are a waste of money. I donít believe that asking the Premier to define how he is directing employees, to define what he considers the best interests of Yukoners, to be a waste of time.

I donít believe the Premier has reviewed all the endless debates or information on this, because the information would say that we have what we needed to move forward. In the plainest of terms, letís take that ball and run with it, develop and protect and work toward an economic future for our children. Letís do that, because thatís what devolution gives us. Letís not spend endless hours of Government of Yukon employeesí time and who knows how many taxpayersí dollars arguing questions that are best left to constitutional lawyers and political science professors. Letís do the real work and get on with developing the Yukon and protecting the Yukon, because we believe, on this side ó certainly in this corner of this side ó in balance, as Iím sure all members do.

Iíd encourage the Premier to table his legal advice when he receives it. Mr. Chair, I encourage the Premier to provide the advice as he has committed to do on the floor of this Legislature to members opposite, and I look forward to reviewing it. I would encourage the Premier to accept, in the spirit with which itís offered, the friendly advice that this is a question on which we need not waste taxpayersí money and in-house legal counselsí time. Itís not going to be definitively decided in the legal opinion.

Itís going to be definitively decided in a court case and I would absolutely not risk the devolution transfer agreement or the Yukon Act with the constitutional questions, because the unintended consequence ó if the court came back and ruled that the Yukon was nothing more than an administrative arm of DIAND, where would we be then? We wouldnít be where we all want to be, which is with a successful DTA and a successful Yukon Act.

I urge the member to consider carefully what I have to say and I appreciate his patience in answering the questions. I believe my colleague has some additional questions.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, how could this side of the House not consider what the member of the third party has had to say? It has been going on for two days. It has been very, very interesting to say the least.

The member was talking about things that were unfortunate. It is unfortunate that we have been having this ridiculous debate.

The member says that we canít define the question. Well, what we have instructed our internal legal people to do is to give us the answer. Does a Crown in right exist for the Yukon? Itís a simple question. It is about management or ownership. That is the definition in laymanís terms. We have gone on and on and on for two days, and it is unfortunate because it did cost the taxpayer needlessly.

On the other hand, what we are doing with the Crown-in-right question is in-house, the costs were already there to the taxpayer. There is no additional cost to this ó none whatsoever ó but there certainly is in what has taken place in the last two days, and the responsibility for that cost lies with the third party.

And I want the public to understand that there is a reason to be constructive in this House. And needless repetition of the same question and getting the same answer is not constructive, it is counterproductive and costly to the taxpayer, and the third party, the party of one, has to answer to the Yukon public for that. They did on November 4, 2002, and I am sure they will continue to answer, considering the performance today and yesterday.

Mr. Hardy:   After that little lecture from the Premier, Iím not sure if I dare say a word. It seems that all thatís going to come back is another lecture that weíre wasting time over here when we have concerns to raise, and thatís a shame, because it is part of the job on this side of the House, as the Premier well knows, to ask questions that reflect what they hear in public, but also based upon the knowledge they may have or are receiving.

Itís my understanding, though, listening to this debate, that maybe some of it is repetitious and I donít disagree with that. It has been quite informative. I do not profess to have the background that the former Premier has, nor do I profess to have the understanding or the support that the existing Premier does.

So, for a layman like myself, there has been some constructive debate. There has definitely been some knowledge shared here. Maybe, as the Premier across the way indicates, it does get a little repetitious and could be a little bit shorter. Sometimes itís hard to disengage, Mr. Chair.

From my perspective with regard to this act, the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, there could be some piggy-backing of some historic relationships in it, where the former Premier might have felt that it was payback time.

Iím not attempting ó sorry, Mr. Chair, Iím just qualifying my statements so that I can assure the Premier across the way that Iím not asking these questions, nor am I going to go for a long time on repetition.

This is general debate, and as Iíve said in the past, my questions are in line-by-line items. I have no intention of going all over the map in general debate or be very specific in it. We will address the line-by-line items as they come forward. We hope that the answers we receive will be concise and knowledgeable.

Ms. Duncan:   We are still in general debate, I take it?

Chair:   Yes, we are.

Ms. Duncan:   Just to conclude the discussion with the Premier ó we had lengthy discussion about the Crown in right of Yukon question, and I touched on and the Premier touched on the question around northern offshore boundaries with regard to this lands issue.

Lands is related; however, we are focused on the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act. Iím struggling with how to say this ó I suspect the Premier is finding my questions tiresome, but Iím not casting aspersions. Is it the Premierís wish that we would have a lengthy discussion about the governmentís intentions on the Yukonís offshore boundaries under, say, the Executive Council Office debate, or would he prefer to have it now in the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act? As the boundaries relate to lands and the definition of the Yukon, I am at a loss as to where to put the debate ó here or in Executive Council Office where it is in the budget? We could get into that. The Chair has traditionally seen the budget debate as rather far reaching in general debate.

So my question duly put to the Premier is, when does he wish to have the discussion ó now or at another point in the life of this particular session?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Iím not sure exactly how extensive a debate we can have on this question.

Yukon and Canada are participants on an offshore committee, but Canada is the lead. The Yukon Oil and Gas Act also has provisions that we strike a committee on oil and gas possibilities in offshore Yukon. The boundaries have not been defined, however, and what we want to seek at these committee levels are assurances that the Yukon will maximize its benefits and return to the Yukon public should development and production of oil and gas, for example, take place in the offshore waters of the Yukon Territory in north Yukon.

But these committees met in February. They continue to meet. Those discussions are taking place, but thereís no concrete action or decision as yet, and thatís what it is when it comes to the position of this side of the House. We want assurances from Canada that we will receive benefits, and for now the venue in which these discussions take place is at these particular committees. Beyond that, there is not a whole lot we can debate on this issue because until we get some concrete assurances and answers, we will continue to have those discussions with the federal government.

Ms. Duncan:   Then what Iíve heard the Premier say is an acknowledgement that the Yukon has been in discussions with the Government of Canada ó it includes a couple of different departments ó about resources and protection of Yukonís interests in the Beaufort, for lack of another expression, and that this committee of Yukon and Government of Canada that was set up under the Oil and Gas Act in 1993 has started their work. So I know that the requests had been in and that there had been some preliminary work done, so what Iíve heard the Premier confirm is that the committee has started their work. So Iím pleased to hear that.

The other point I didnít hear the Premier address, though, is ó I believe he said that heís not sure what other work should be done. In the reference to the devolution transfer agreement and the Yukon act, the Yukon Party has said they will pursue this recognition of Yukonís offshore boundaries. So my question then is: what additional work is being done to fulfill that commitment, or is the Premier saying this committee is the fulfillment of that commitment? Is it the committee, or is there something else thatís being done?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Iím sure itís probably a well-known fact that Canada and Yukon, under the Oil and Gas Accord, have developed what is to be a shared management regime. However, before negotiations in that regard can take place, it is up to both federal and territorial governments to clarify what the issues are, review what exactly it is weíre going to negotiate, so our government is making it very clear publicly and to Canada that we want to define the offshore boundaries, as part of this overall process, so that we ó in this so-called shared management approach ó are working in the best interests of the Yukon public. Canada is certainly very much a lead player in this, and we want to ensure that, when we get into negotiations, weíre negotiating all the pieces that ensure that the maximum benefits can accrue to Yukoners.

Thatís important because oil and gas deposits know no boundaries. We have to be sure that "Yukon offshore" is clearly defined with this so-called shared management regime, and thatís why we have stated the case that we want to be assured that we know clearly what the offshore boundaries are and where this shared management regime will apply its activities.

So a clarification and review of what we are going to negotiate, all these things must take place before what has been struck based on the Oil and Gas Accord ó I believe of 1993, and what has been struck from that. We need these clarifications and review before we can start negotiating, and that is what we hope we can get to as quickly as possible.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I just need to be very clear on what the Premierís response is. What I understood the Premier to say is that the definition of Yukonís offshore boundaries will be pursued through the establishment of the offshore committee, which is established pursuant to the 1993 Oil and Gas Accord and the Oil and Gas Act. The Oil and Gas Act requires that there be an offshore committee set up. That has been done.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan:   The Premier is saying no, that is not what he said, so can the Premier just clarify for me who is going to, and where this question of the offshore boundaries is going to be referenced.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Before formal negotiations can take place, we must clarify and review the issues. We in Yukon have stated clearly that one of those issues that need to be clarified and/or reviewed is the boundaries. That is a part of this, so we have to ó government to government ó review and clarify all the issues, and I am sure the federal government will have a number of issues and items they want clarified, and this all has to happen before formal negotiations take place, as per the 1993 Oil and Gas Accord.

Ms. Duncan:   The Premier has said that the Government of the Yukon has stated that this issue of Yukonís offshore boundaries has to be clarified and has to be clarified before the offshore committee required under the Oil and Gas Act is established. Thatís what I heard the Premier say.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan:   The Premier says "before formal negotiations are conducted." Okay ó to whom have these formal concerns been expressed? The Premier says the Yukon has to say that we have a problem with our boundary. Who has the Premier said it to, other than Yukoners?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   As we pursue these initiatives, we will be saying it to the related federal people on this particular committee. Canada and Yukon are committed to this, based on the Oil and Gas Accord. One of the items we want to work on, as Yukon, is the offshore boundary. There is an importance to that because we want to ensure that maximum benefits accrue to Yukoners.

So, there are a number of issues, and I canít speak today on the floor of the Legislature about the issues that the federal government may want to review and clarify and address, because Iím not going to speak for them. But one of the foremost things we want to deal with is this issue of the offshore boundary.

We do have mechanisms like this committee that has been struck vis-à-vis the Oil and Gas Accord of 1993, and we will also endeavour to work on every possible option we have to define the offshore boundary and ensure that Yukoners are given their fair share of what may be developed in the Beaufort as it relates to what would be or should be Yukonís offshore.

Ms. Duncan:   There are two issues. There is the management regime that is offshore of Yukon and there is management, care and control of resources ó there is that management regime. There is also a discussion of what is our boundary between Alaska and the Yukon offshore and between Yukon and Northwest Territories offshore. There are two points: the boundaries and the management regime.

What I hear the Premier saying ó and I invite him to correct me if Iím wrong ó is that this offshore committee, which is established pursuant to the Yukon Oil and Gas Act, is going to be asked to deal with both our boundaries and the offshore management regime. Is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Itís one and the same. Canada and Yukon will have a shared management regime. Before formal negotiations in that regard take place, we must review and address issues. One of Yukonís issues ó and Iím sure the federal government has issues ó is to clearly define the offshore boundary. But there is a commitment under the 1993 Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord for a shared management regime. But before formal negotiations take place in that regard, these issues have to be addressed, and weíre working collaboratively on them. But weíre making a very clear point here that one of the issues for Yukon is this question of the offshore boundaries.

Ms. Duncan:   It was always my understanding that the offshore management regime was to be discussed by this committee that is established pursuant to the Oil and Gas Act.

It was not necessary before entering into this discussion with Canada to define the boundaries, and what I hear the Premier saying is that it is this governmentís policy and approach to have that boundary discussion before dealing with the management regime. So the Premier is saying that thereís a change in policy, that this government is saying, "No, we are not prepared to go into the management regime discussions until weíve resolved this boundary discussion." Thatís what I hear the Premier say. Am I correct in that?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   No, the member is incorrect, Mr. Chair. The facts are that both Canada and the Yukon have agreed ó I am assuming quite some time ago, long before I got here ó that they would review and clarify the issues before formal negotiations on a shared management regime were to take place. Thatís exactly what is laid out, and the Yukon government can provide comment, I guess, on decisions the federal government makes on the offshore committee. But when it comes to the shared management regime, we have a commitment to work collaboratively on issues, review the issues. What weíre saying as a government is that one of the main ones for the Yukon is the boundaries. Those are vital to what may happen in the future, and thatís one of the issues we want to deal with.

Ms. Duncan:   Perhaps we could go at it this way. What does the Premier believe resolution of the boundary dispute would provide Yukoners? Will it ensure that Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board rules apply to people working beyond the 12 miles out, beyond the ordinary high-water mark? What will resolution of this boundary dispute provide for Yukoners?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, one thing it will provide is clarity on exactly where those boundaries are. Secondly, with that clarity, it will ensure that what we can do in a shared management regime, or through any other initiative or mechanism, maximizes the benefits for Yukoners.

Now, if we want to look to our neighbours to the east, they are at this time working to maximize those benefits, and it is showing up. We have to make sure that, on the other hand, if development does take place offshore, if development takes place, that we are clear on what should be Yukonís benefit. Not all, as we understand that the federal government will do as they do in the Northwest Territories ó take their fair share. However, we want the clarity to ensure that we will get our just due, as the Northwest Territories is getting from their offshore or delta development. It is about clarity and itís about ensuring and maximizing the benefits for Yukon people. I think that is a very prudent course to follow, as a government representing Yukoners.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, does the Premier believe that clarity will give us ownership?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, Mr. Chair, thatís a real tough question. No, I donít believe it will give us ownership. Clarity provides us exactly ó out there on the ocean, where is it that Yukon should have benefits accruing to its public? Thatís not ownership. Not at all.

The question of the offshore boundary is to ensure that we know exactly, when something takes place out there, whether or not the Yukon should be benefiting from it. And weíre saying, like any other jurisdiction that has gone through this with the federal government ó whether it be the issue of Hibernia, whether it be what the N.W.T. has gone through in the past with its development ó now itís the Yukonís turn. We want to make sure that we benefit to the highest possible level for Yukoners because it will, if it happens, generate substantial expenditure.

All we have to do is look at one small little production in the southeast corner of the Yukon. At todayís gas prices, millions accrue to the government, which are shared among all the First Nations. Thatís a very small example. You can multiply that by whatever factor you want to choose when it comes to offshore, but it means a lot to the Yukon Territory and its public and its future.

Secondly, we want to make sure that things donít happen out there that will compromise our environment in a very adverse way. I mean, we want to make sure we have more than just a seat on the bus for the ride. We want to have input. We want to be part of the decision making. We want to ensure itís done right, and if something does happen out there in the way of development, we want maximum benefits to the Yukon public. I think thatís a good thing.

Ms. Duncan:   Is the maximization of economic benefits to Yukoners achieved through boundary discussions or through negotiations of an offshore management regime?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, I would submit that any logical negotiations for an offshore management regime would include exactly what area you are managing. Therefore, having the boundaries set out in the water where there are no posts or border crossings or anything else, but knowing exactly what area this so-called management regime is supposed to be working within, is important. Itís important in a number of ways. But if weíre going to have an effective management regime, we certainly want to know exactly what area this is going to include in terms of offshore so that weíre getting what we desire ó to have a seat at this table in this shared management approach.

Ms. Duncan:   The Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Act and the Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord in 1993 called for Canada and Yukon to set up this offshore committee. The offshore committee was to be set up within three years and it was to deal with the economic issues management and benefits. It was not to deal with the boundaries. That wasnít the issue. It was management.

What I hear the Premier telling me is that itís this governmentís position that that offshore committee should deal with boundaries and the management regime. Thatís what I hear the Premier telling me, that they should deal with both of them.

I believe and my understanding is that that would be a change of the mandate to this committee. So, can the Premier confirm, then, that that was a change made to this committee, that this committee is going to deal with both boundaries and the management, and that thatís a new direction for the committee?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   No, thereís no change to the committee. Our government is saying that, to ensure the right thing takes place, we want a definition of where those boundaries are. If we are going to understand fully what it means to Yukon in north Yukon on our offshore, we need to be clear on where those boundaries are. How are we going to protect the interests of the Yukon public if we have a seat at the table, a shared management regime, but we donít know what can be defined as Yukon and what isnít defined as Yukon potential and resource.

So the logical course here is to define those boundaries so we know exactly, within those boundaries, what should accrue to Yukon as much as we can maximize the benefits and, within those boundaries, decisions must be made in a responsible way. We need to know exactly what those boundaries are, and thatís an important question to this issue. Itís very easy to do it the other way, I suppose, and just sit back and let the federal government dictate whatís going to happen, but I think, in this particular case, thatís not going to be to the benefit of Yukoners as it should be, and thatís not going to protect Yukonersí interest.

So weíre saying, as part of this overall issue of offshore and the possible oil and gas development and whatever else ó it could include an over-the-top pipeline route ó I think itís vital that we define what our boundaries are offshore, and it is within those boundaries that we should have more than just a seat at the table or a ride on the bus. We must have meaningful input. We must be part of the decision making, and we must be able to ensure that Yukoners get what they deserve out of this, and we can protect Yukonersí interests now and long into the future. One of the elements for that to work is to ensure we know where those boundaries are offshore.

Ms. Duncan:   The Government of Canada and the courts have ruled that it is the Government of Canada that owns, if you will, or has jurisdiction over the offshore of British Columbia, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories and Nunavut ó the ordinary high-water mark and so many miles offshore, I believe itís 12. The rest of that is Canadaís. So the issue for the Yukon is the economics of this, the economics of the management regime offshore, economics like workersí compensation ó does Yukon workersí compensation apply? Is it Canada? Whatís the application? Likewise, the resource revenues and the royalties that flow.

So, thatís why Iím pursuing these questions with the Premier. Itís because I believe that this offshore committee, as required under the Oil and Gas Act, is only dealing with the management regime. They are not dealing with the boundary question because Canada considers the boundary question to be between Canada and the U.S. There is dispute between the Yukon and the Northwest Territories as to where that offshore boundary goes, because we, as provinces and territories, believe that itís not Canadaís, that itís ours, but the courts and others have ruled that, no, itís Canadaís. International law recognizes it as Canadaís.

The Premier is saying it is this offshore committee that will deal with the boundaries, that this offshore committee will resolve this boundary jurisdiction. I challenge that. To me, boundaries are resolved by international boundary commissions. So I would ask the Premier to substantiate that, to substantiate, on the floor, how ó or the instructions to the offshore committee, a letter of instruction or advice he has given to officials ó he has asked the offshore committee to resolve the boundary discussion.

How have they been asked to do that? I canít find the reference in the Oil and Gas Act. I can find a reference to the offshore management regime but I donít find a reference to the offshore boundaries.

The Premier has said this committee is going to resolve it, so the Premier must have given them instructions or must have communicated this in some way. So, could he share that with us please?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The member opposite is actually making the case here. She just stood on her feet and said there are issues between the U.S. and Canada on one boundary of the Yukonís offshore. There are also issues with N.W.T. and Canada on the other boundary off Yukonís shore. Thatís exactly why we want clarity on this issue.

And no, I did not say the committee is going to solve the issue. I said that there are issues that we have to review and address before we get into formal negotiations on a management regime. For the Yukon government, I said clearly this offshore boundary issue is one of those issues that we want addressed, that we want clarity on and, as the member put on the floor moments ago, it is an issue between the United States and between the N.W.T. So, if weíre going to ensure that Yukoners get maximum benefits and that the decision making offshore of Yukon is done in a responsible manner on behalf of the Yukon public, we need to define what those boundaries are, where they are, and thatís in the best interests of the Yukon public.

Ms. Duncan:   So, Mr. Chair, the logical question, then, is: who has the Premier asked to define these boundaries? The Premier said there are issues. I have said there are issues. The Premier said the offshore management committee was dealing with them. I asked him to substantiate that. He didnít.

The Premier has said this definition of offshore boundaries is an important issue. In fact, the Premier said "before the offshore management regime". So, what the logical listener hears, then, is that the Premier just stood on his feet and said this boundary issue is going to be resolved before the offshore management committee does their work and develops a management regime.

If thatís the case, who is resolving the boundaries?

To whom has the Premier referred the question?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, no thatís not what the Premier has said, period. We have to address issues in regard to this management regime. What Iíve stated on the floor is that our government believes that the boundary question is one of those issues that require clarity. Thatís exactly what weíre going to do. We are going to try to get clarity on this issue. Thatís what weíve said. We havenít said that the committee is going to solve the offshore boundary issue. We havenít said that the management regime is going to solve the offshore boundary issue. Weíve said that we want clarity on this issue and we will do so with whatever mechanism, initiative or availability with the federal government that we have as a government to address the issue and get clarity on it. It is a question. It is a big problem. It includes the U.S. and the Northwest Territories. The Yukon, being in the middle, should, along with Canada, achieve the answers to this question on what the boundaries are and where they are.

Again, just to recap so the member gets it clear, we have not said that the committee is going to solve this problem. We have not said anybody else is going to solve this problem. We have said that we as a government, on behalf of Yukoners, want clarity on the issue.

Ms. Duncan:   From whom is the Premier seeking this clarity? He said the government wants clarity on this issue. How does he intend to get clarity for Yukoners on this issue? Is he going to write the Prime Minister and ask for an international boundary commission? How is he going to do this? He says he wants clarity. He has committed to it publicly and says itís a big problem and it deserves the governmentís attention and resources ó how does he intend to pursue it?

Logically no one would stand and say they were going to do something without knowing how they were going to achieve it. So, to whom is the Premier going to refer the question?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Would the Pope do? We could always ask the Pope. I mean this again is becoming a ridiculous debate. The issue is there, and we as a government are going to seek clarity. We may do it in any number of ways, of which on the floor of this House today Iím not prepared to relay to the member opposite, because those would be something that has to be done in accordance with government decision-making processes. We want clarity and we will seek clarity and we will do it with whatever means we have available to us.

One of the areas is going to be in this particular management regime, because we have the ability to address and review issues before formal negotiations take place. So whatever it takes, Mr. Chair, we will do, but at this time we are not prepared to make a long list for the member of whom we are going to talk to and when we are going to talk to them. This is a ridiculous debate. This is about the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act mirror legislation; legislation that the member opposite said was going to be smooth and simple and nothing to it, and so on and so forth. We have been dancing around this issue now for another 45 minutes and, frankly, we are again wasting taxpayersí money at $1,000 an hour for a question that the member has gotten the answer to over and over and over. Our governmentís position is we want clarity on the boundary issue and we will seek out whatever means possible to provide that clarity ó end of story.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate the Premierís attempt to make light of this debate; however, it is important. The member was put on notice when I gave my second reading speech about the Yukon lands act, as this is where I intended to raise the questions. Now the Premier clearly thought this was a very important issue for Yukoners. It was in his partyís platform, it was in his throne speech, delivered by the Commissioner, and it was in his budget speech that he was going to pursue this for all Yukoners. He was going to pursue this issue of boundaries, so all I am asking is a simple question of how.

How does he intend to do it? He committed to all of Yukon that he was going to do it ó not once, not twice but three times publicly. He was going to pursue Yukonís boundaries.

So if you make a statement like that, logically, the next question that you should be able to answer is: how? What I heard the Premier answer is: "I donít know yet. We have a secret agenda because the member said matters have to come before Cabinet ó Cabinet is secret. The options would come before government."

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair:   Member for Klondike, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, thereís a point of order. The member opposite is imputing unavowed motives on the Premier and alleging that he has made statements in this House that he has not done.

Chairís ruling

Chair:   There is no point of order here. The Premier may clarify his statements the next time he has the floor.

Ms. Duncan:   Thank you.

What the Premier said was that he did not have a course of action outlined for how he intends to fulfill this commitment. He cannot answer the question for me that I am asking on behalf of all Yukoners. The Premier committed to pursuing Yukonís offshore boundaries and these disputes, which we both have recognized on the floor of the House exist. There are disputes that exist about Yukonís offshore boundary.

The Premier committed several times that he, as leader of the government, intended to pursue this. Iím asking the question on behalf of all Yukoners: how does the Premier intend to pursue this boundary dispute? How does he intend that it be resolved, through what mechanism? And Iíve asked the Premier to please outline that.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, the member did erroneously put on the record that I said that we donít know, so on and so forth. Again, thatís not the case. I will commit one more time for the member opposite that we are going to seek out defining the offshore boundaries for the Yukon. Thatís a commitment, and the answer to the member is "stay tuned".

Ms. Duncan:   Well, "stay tuned" is not the sort of definitive answer Yukoners were looking for. This government pledged that it would defend Yukonersí boundaries, would fight for their boundaries, and would ensure that Yukonís boundaries were recognized. Iím asking how. The Premier has not answered the question. Instead, he has responded "stay tuned".

There is an offshore management regime to be negotiated between Canada and Yukon. The committee dealing with that offshore management regime ó the Premier is receiving some information so Iíll just wait until he has finished.

The Premier has discussed this definition of Yukonís offshore boundaries, has indicated that they as a government will pursue, but he has not indicated how they will pursue it. The Premier has also said that there is an offshore management committee. That offshore committee is a result of the Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord. That offshore committee is to deal with the management regime, to deal with how the offshore is to be managed, to deal with those questions.

Is it the Premierís view that the boundaries must be dealt with prior to the offshore management regime being negotiated? He did say "before" earlier, in one of his answers, Mr. Chair. I will review Hansard, but my understanding is that the Premier said "before" the offshore management regime would be negotiated, the boundaries had to be dealt with.

Is that the Premierís view, that the boundaries must be dealt with before the offshore management regime?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, one of the Premierís views is that the former government blew it during devolution when they could have addressed this issue and brought clarity to it. But the facts are that itís not a question of "before" ó what the committee allows Yukon and the Yukon government to do in working collaboratively with the federal government is to review, clarify and address issues before initiating formal negotiations. Thatís what the Premier has said. Thatís what weíve been responding to ó again, at great length with the member opposite, over and over and over.

So, the answer is the same. The member can ask the same question many different ways but the answer remains the same. We want clarity on the offshore boundaries. We will seek clarity on the offshore boundaries.

Ms. Duncan:   Two points ó I was distracted by the reminder of the knowledge that it was the Special Committee on the Yukon Act that noted that the offshore boundaries would be dealt with under a separate process from the Yukon Act and devolution, so to suggest the previous government blew it is, quite frankly, incorrect. The Special Committee on the Yukon Act reported and referenced this.

Is the Premier saying ó so I am clear, then ó that the offshore management committee, as noted in the Yukon Oil and Gas Act, will carry on their work and will work on a management regime while the government determines how they may or may not pursue this boundary commission ó that the two will go on concurrently?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The former government did blow it. We have unhappy federal employees thanks to that former memberís negotiation of devolution. We are facing litigation today on devolution, thanks to that memberís negotiation of devolution. We donít have clarity on the offshore boundary, thanks to the former governmentís negotiation on devolution. We donít have the Crown-in-right answer ó whether it exists in the Yukon ó thanks to that memberís faulty negotiations when it comes to devolution.

We have a totally underfunded fire suppression budget in devolution thanks to the faulty negotiations of the former government, and the list goes on and on and on. So I should say that the record is corrected now, but the former government did blow it. The question that the member asked is the same question and the answer is the same. We will seek clarity on the offshore boundary issue, and we are going to do that.

Ms. Duncan:   It is amazing to me, absolutely amazing, how the view has changed. In the short days of this government ó weíve been in the Legislature, what, 10 or 11 days ó 11 days, and in that time period the member opposite has flipped from, "Hallelujah, the previous government signed this devolution accord, that is great, that is terrific, I give the member opposite full credit for the devolution accord," to the flop of "Holy, itís all your fault."

Well, quite frankly, Mr. Chair, the devolution transfer agreement that was negotiated through three different governments of three different stripes, and concluded by our government, is the best deal. And the member oppositeís contention that, oh, we are going to improve it, "Oh, we are going to change it" ó well, he has yet to indicate how. And the proof will be, as time goes on and devolution is implemented in this territory, that Yukoners finally will be in control of their resources, finally will move forward. Yes, it was under our watch that the devolution transfer agreement was concluded and the Yukon Act passed both Houses in Canada and, absolutely, I will stand behind every comma and every negotiated point in that agreement, which is also supported by a resolution by the Yukon Council of First Nations.

And I would remind the member opposite, since he brought it up, that he has yet to answer the question of whether or not he has reviewed the information and any legal opinion on the supposed court case challenging devolution.

Mr. Chair, the member has still not answered fully the question: does the member intend to proceed with the offshore management committee and the boundary question at the same time? The offshore management committee had to be established ó has been established. They have done some initial work. Are they continuing their work? Are we working on this offshore management regime? If the answer is yes, the work is continuing, and the Premier did say that they had a meeting in February, then is the Premier going to allow that work to conclude before launching ó we donít know how ó this boundary dispute? Or does the Premier intend to let the offshore management committee conclude their work and then launch into the we-donít-know-how boundary dispute? At what point in time Ė and we donít know how heís going to pursue it Ė at what point in time is the Premier going to seek resolution of the boundary? Is it going to be before, after or during the offshore management committeeís work?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, unless Iíve suddenly developed a vapour lock in my cranium, we have answered this question over and over and over. When it comes to issues like Crown in right and the offshore boundary issue, this is not like changing shoes. There is a lot of work that has to be done here. The member opposite obviously, in the way she stumbled and fumbled toward signing this devolution agreement and left all the problems to a subsequent government to deal with, itís obvious that the member opposite has absolutely no understanding of the issue, the complexities of the issue, or the scope of the issues. Frankly, the member opposite should also be aware that, when it comes to the legal challenge, itís not a supposed legal challenge, itís a court date set for May 13 on devolution.

Itís a legal challenge against the federal government and it has huge ramifications on what may happen in this territory. So, weíre also working on that front to try and get abeyance. The member knows full well that, because of litigation, the federal government has even walked away from negotiating land claims with the Kaska First Nation on the B.C. side of the border. So, itís not supposed, itís a fact, itís happening, and the member opposite should not be so flippant about the way she views these things because these are very important issues to Yukoners and thatís why weíre working on them.

The member opposite has said repeatedly that this side of the House doesnít know how itís going to do it. Well, we have just spent two days now, repeating over and over how we are proceeding on a number of fronts. The Crown-in-right issue right now is being looked at to provide the government advice. Thatís why those legal people are in government, to provide government advice. So thereís one front.

We are seeking clarity on the offshore boundary. We have committed to do that. We have said that one of the possibilities is with this management regime because it commits both Canada and Yukon to clarify, review and address issues before formal negotiations take place. We are seeking abeyance in litigation on the devolution issue. So again, itís not that I donít know how or we donít know how. We are working on it.

We are trying to improve the issue for federal employees. We have committed to them fair treatment. I have recently sent letters off to all the federal employees who are coming over to the government. We are working on that issue. We are going to be sitting down with Ottawa on a number of fronts when it comes to management and control here in the territory.

The member seems to think that, just because in her lofty position as Premier she signed a devolution transfer agreement, that all is well. Well, that is not the case. There is a lot left undone and a lot of work to do. The important thing for us now in the Yukon is to take what weíve got, implement it in a manner that will work ó there are so many fronts here that are problematic to be able to achieve a positive implementation of devolution and a smooth transition of devolution.

I would add that another major problem area is the upheaval that the former government caused with renewal. That has put the Yukon government into what could be deemed as disarray. There are people now in the Yukon government who are still trying to determine exactly where they go and what it is they are going to do. Well, this is the government that is taking those challenges on, and this debate is, quite frankly, a ridiculous debate and that is being kind. There is absolutely no need for this. I have never heard such drivel, and if the member wants to continue this song and dance, we will be here, but it is at a tremendous cost to the Yukon taxpayer ó $1,000 per hour ó and I will be sending out Hansard to every Yukoner we can possibly get in touch with so they can read for themselves the ridiculous nature of the third partyís debate on this issue.

The answer is we are going to seek clarity on the offshore boundary issue. We will continue to work on that today, tomorrow, the next day and so on until we have clarity on exactly what that issue is all about and what it means to Yukoners. That is what we have committed to do and that is exactly what we intend to do.

Ms. Duncan:   Itís unfortunate that the member opposite considers questions about such things as accountability for how taxpayersí money is spent and how a product is going to be achieved as "flippant".

I would remind the member opposite that it wasnít me who stood on the floor and made reference to the Pope in a flippant answer.

The member is dragging in all sorts of spurious comments to the debate and has suggested that an abeyance in litigation is important to the government. I have simply asked the member on many occasions: on what basis is the abeyance being pursued, and on what basis is the litigation, and has he examined the bases?

I am asking the member again ó the member said that I and my colleagues didnít do any work, that we simply signed a devolution transfer agreement. Well, the fact is that renewal was a good part of the work of implementing devolution. Renewal was a very good part, and itís a doggone shame that the member opposite simply walked in, and because it has an "L" on it, pushed the undo button and ignored the advice of 800 Yukon government employees.

Again, the member has said that the government is seeking clarity on the boundaries ó seeking clarity on Yukon offshore boundaries. All Iím asking the member opposite is: how?

I respectfully remind the member that he is more than welcome to send Hansard out. I do the same. I did it in government, I did it in opposition, Iíll do it in opposition again.

I stand behind my questions; I donít consider them flippant, and I donít consider the remarks about the previous government entirely necessary or germane to the debate. Iím asking a simple question. The Premier has said several times publicly he intends to seek clarity on the boundaries. Iím asking how he intends to do that, and Iím asking what role the offshore management committee plays in this. Is the offshore management committee, which is only dealing with the management regime, are they doing their work at the same time the Premier is seeking clarity on the offshore boundaries, or not? Is he saying to the offshore management committee, "Hold up your work while we deal with the boundary issue"? How is this proceeding? I would appreciate the courtesy of a response, Mr. Chair.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Itís the same question again, Mr. Chair. I did answer it. When it comes to the committee and the management regime, pursuant to the 1993 Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord, Yukon and DIAND have established a shared offshore regime development committee and working collaboratively to review, clarify and address issues before initiating formal negotiations. I donít know how else we can explain that, but thatís the answer. So we are, as a government, wanting to seek clarity on the offshore boundary issue, and we will do so with whatever means is available to us. Itís important to Yukoners.

Now, going back to the memberís comments about renewal, to even imply in this Legislature that renewal was meant to assist in devolution is simply completely off the mark. It did nothing of the sort, Mr. Chair. It created enormous confusion and chaos within the Yukon government, only hampering ó hampering, Mr. Chair ó any possible smooth transition when we bring the federal employees over.

We as a government are trying to fix that too. In fact, Mr. Chair, the member said 800 employees provided advice. I would submit that the advice of the majority of those employees was not to do this. The majority of those employees did not want this to happen. The majority of those employees were cheering in the hallways November 4. The majority of those employees are still cheering. The majority of those employees are thankful that this member opposite called an election for November 4, because now we can put some semblance of order and direction back into the Yukon government, and that is a good thing.

Ms. Duncan:   The memberís attempt at humour is, I find, very humorous, Mr. Chair, and I thank the member for trying to lighten the debate this afternoon.

The fact is that the issues the Yukon-DIAND committee is working on are not the boundary issues, unless the Premier has directed them. Has the Premier provided direction that boundaries are now part of that offshore management committeeís mandate to discuss? They are now on the list of issues. Can the Premier confirm that the offshore management committee is dealing with the boundaries because he, the Premier, has put them there?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   We have stated that we will use whatever means possible to clarify this issue. We intend to do that, and there are many other areas at our disposal that we may be able to use to solve this problem and clarify the issue. We will look at them all and, at the end of the day, frankly the memberís debate here is irrelevant to this particular act that weíre trying to pass, called the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act. Itís mirror legislation and, frankly, has absolutely nothing to do with the debate thatís going on.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, you will recall and Hansard will reflect that I put the Premier on notice that I was going to raise this issue in the lands debate and that I indicated that and gave the Premier the option when I stood up and reintroduced this and asked, "Does the Premier want to wait until Executive Council Office?" We engaged in the debate, and we are in it.

Now whenever the Premier canít answer a question, I have noticed that he responds with, "This is a spurious debate," or, "It is not relevant to the mirror legislation," or "The member doesnít know what she is talking about." Well, quite frankly, the Premier said earlier this afternoon the boundaries were not on the offshore management committeeís mandate ó the offshore management committee, as established by the Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Act. That accord signed in 1993 said there will be a committee. It did not say, and my understanding when I left government, was that committee was not dealing with the boundaries.

To put it in legalese, it is ultra vires the committee. It is beyond the scope of that committeeís mandate. Now what I am trying to determine is, did the Premier add it to the committeeís mandate? Has he done that? It is a yes or no, and I know the Premier is fond of those questions, because he always used to ask me ó yes or no. Are the boundaries now part of the offshore committeeís mandate to discuss ó yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, this issue is part of the governmentís agenda. There are a number of things going on with this committee obviously, and it is clearly spelled out that this committee will be addressing issues for clarity and other things before formal negotiations take place. So I said again, sometime back in this ridiculous debate, to the member opposite, stay tuned: when we have some information on how all these things are proceeding, we will provide it to the member.

Iím not going to speculate on what may or may not happen. At the end of the day, we are working on a number of fronts as government, and on the offshore boundary issue we want clarity and we will address that with the federal government with whatever means are at our disposal. This committee is one of those possible means that is at our disposal ó end of story. Thatís the answer, over and over and over, to the same question over and over and over for one hour and 15 minutes now.

Ms. Duncan:   It may have been a length of time; however, I have not received a yes or no. So my understanding ó Iím going to provide the member opposite with the benefit of the doubt ó is that no, the question of boundaries has not been referenced and is not part of the offshore management committeeís mandate. Now the Premier has said that the offshore committee is at work.

The Premier is very interested in the contract registry. The Premier has indicated that no, the offshore management committee has not been tasked with the boundary question. Although it is a commitment of the government, restated many times this afternoon, to pursue this boundary question, the Premier has not indicated how the boundary question will be pursued.

So we have established that no, the offshore committee will not be dealing with the boundaries. We have established that the government intends to pursue the offshore boundary question. We have not established how the government intends to pursue the offshore boundary question. We have no sense at all how the government ó other than, I think the phrase was, "all the means at our disposal", whatever that might be.

And the Premier has indicated and has recognized that Canada has asserted that they have sovereignty over Arctic waters with Nunavut and Northwest Territories, and the court cases have determined that Canada has sovereignty over offshore B.C. and Newfoundland. So what questions remain outstanding are not only the boundaries but also the application of Yukon law. Thatís the question, and the management committee may determine that. So with the record reflecting, then, that the Premier has indicated that the offshore management committee will not be dealing with the boundaries and the government intends to pursue the boundary commission, but we donít know how. Thereís no indication other than means at their disposal as to how the government intends to pursue this, and the Premierís changes of position in support of the devolution agreement and the Yukon Act ó I would have no further questions in general debate on the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, of course subject to the Premierís response.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   We cannot leave incorrect statements on the record. The Premier has never said no to whatís happening at the committee level. Our government has always been clear that we are going to implement devolution and make best efforts to improve it. Those are the facts. The member opposite is providing a lot of useless information to the floor of this Legislature, and itís unfortunate because itís costing taxpayers $1,000 an hour, and I hope that the member opposite sends out Hansard. In fact, I would be ecstatic if the member opposite were to send out Hansard, and I canít wait.

My box is Box 603, Watson Lake, Yukon, Y0A 1C0. Send me one, too. Iíd like to see what the member actually intends to send out to Yukoners that would even remotely reflect a constructive debate coming from the third party when it comes to the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act and, for that matter, most other issues we have heard today.

So, with that record now corrected, let us move on and expedite the publicís business in this House.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, Iím not going to accept that questions I have asked in this House are useless or a waste of government time or a waste of the publicís time. I believe asking how this government intends to pursue a campaign commitment is a useful exercise. Not answering the question I find unfortunate. I still have not received an answer as to how the government intends to pursue the boundary question. The Premier has indicated that he has not, at least not yet, referred the question of boundaries to the offshore committee. He is not accepting that it is not within the mandate of that particular committee, not accepting that assertion. That, too, is unfortunate.

Now, the member opposite may find such questions as the Yukon boundaries and how they might be resolved a waste of time. I, quite frankly, Mr. Chair, do not.

Mr. Chair, itís unfortunate that the Premier doesnít see answering the questions of the public as useful. I do, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate? Seeing no general debate we will proceed line by line.

On Clause 1

Ms. Duncan:   Would the Premier agree that the interpretation of clause 1 admits the Crown, as the Yukon equivalent, is the Commissioner or Government of Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   This is mirror legislation and this is what is in the bill. We are certainly not going to amend it, and that is the answer.

Ms. Duncan:   I accept that "yes" from the Premier.

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On Clause 11

Ms. Duncan:   This has to deal with the ordinary high-water mark or the boundary line, as the case may be. This is an opportunity, again, to deal with the boundaries issue. Reviewing the section, as the Premier is now, is it their intent to highlight this section with Ottawa in pursuit of the boundary, as the Premier has talked about? For example, yesterday, when we talked about the placer act, I noted to the Premier that it provided an opportunity to highlight in Ottawa our current issues with respect to the placer mining industry in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Here is an opportunity, in discussion of land and boundaries, for the Premier to highlight the issue in Ottawa, when this act is duly passed by this House. Does the Premier intend to pursue that course of action in his pursuit of the boundary resolution?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   We intend to get clarity on the boundary issue. We have no intention of amending this. There is a possibility that we may highlight this particular section with Ottawa but, for the most part, we would like to pass this legislation, give it assent and get on with whatís going to happen April 1. Itís a big job coming. There is going to be a lot of work involved here. Expectations in this territory will be high, and we have a great deal to accomplish. I think, for the most part, we will just continue working the way we are on the issue of clarity and the boundaries. If this possible section becomes useful, we certainly would take the memberís suggestion under advisement and certainly keep on file what we may be able to do with it in regard to the question of the boundary.

Ms. Duncan:   The Premier has said "working the way we are" on the boundary issue. Perhaps heíll provide a legislative return as to how theyíre working in the course of this particular session.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 11?

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Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 24, entitled Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that Bill No. 24, entitled Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Chair:   Shall we take a 10-minute recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Recess

Chair:   Order. I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will now proceed with Bill No. 25, Waters Act.

Bill No. 25 ó Waters Act

Chair:   Is there any general debate?

Ms. Duncan:   I just have a few questions for the Premier in general debate. First of all, could I ask the Premier to state for the record the Government of Yukon position with respect to bulk water exports?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   In order to move debate along in the House, what I am going to do is read verbatim the briefing note on the governmentís position so that we donít get into the question of who said what and when and why and all the rest of it. So let me proceed if I may, Mr. Chair.

Yukon has ó and I am sure the member opposite knows ó supported federal and provincial initiatives in southern Canada to ban bulk water removal from river basins including groundwater. Bottled water is exempt from these initiatives. Nothing has changed.

DIAND has been consulting on implementing a policy on banning bulk water removal in the north. Yukon supports consultation with the Water Board on the policy and we understand that is underway between the Water Board and DIAND, who are still, until April 1, responsible.

Lastly, we are advised by DIAND that the federal policy for the three territories will not be completed by April 1. After April 1, when Yukon assumes responsibility for water in the territory, Yukon government will, in consultation with the Water Board, work with DIAND, Nunavut and Northwest Territories toward developing coordinated policies that will ban the removal of bulk water.

Ms. Duncan:   So by the Premier reading that briefing note into the record, Iím taking from that that the Premier is opposed to bulk water exports, that the Premier supports the position that has just been presented.

The Premier made a great deal of reference to Nunavut, Northwest Territories and DIAND and a coordinated approach. This is also an individual jurisdictional issue at the premiersí table. In the communiqué that comes out of the premiersí meetings, each premier is asked to state, for the record ó and they are meetings that arenít necessarily held with officials ó where are you personally ó you being the jurisdiction ó so our Premier would be asked, where does Yukon stand on bulk water exports?

The Premier has said we are against it and weíre working with the others on this joint policy. Individually, Yukon itself also says we are against this, as an individual territory.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, thatís what it says and thatís what weíre working toward.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate that direct answer from the Premier.

A couple of days ago, the Premier and I had a lengthy discussion about the Yukon Water Board and where it is going. Does the Premier know yet? Where will the Water Board, this quasi-judicial board, be housed post-April 1?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I must tell the member opposite that I will not be providing the answer as to where the Water Board is going today. Beyond that, I will provide that answer in due course to the member and all members of this House. There is, actually, a considerable amount of work being done in Justice and in other areas to determine all the issues linked to the Water Board and renewal and the transfer and so on and so forth.

So today, I simply will not be providing an answer because there has not been what I consider to be a completely informed presentation on exactly where the Water Board should go at this time.

Ms. Duncan:   I thank the Premier for that answer. I believe that a good deal of work had been done on this. I respect the Premierís right to revisit the issue. The Premier said we would be provided with an answer in due course. Could I just have a little more definition to the "due course"? For example, will a legislative return be filed next week on his behalf, when the Premier is doing something else? Or will we have a legislative return when he returns to the territory? Say, April 15 ó will we know?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, at the risk of being mischievous, between today, March 18, and April 1.

Ms. Duncan:   I take the Premier in good faith that he is not attempting to be mischievous but is attempting to provide me with an answer as soon as is practicable and possible. And I look forward to that answer prior to April 1, as Iím sure the Water Board does.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Mr. Hardy:   Only to say that I was going to address my comments in the line-by-line items. There were a few issues in here. Interestingly enough, most were answered in the exchange between the third party member and the Premier, and I appreciate the answers to those questions, most particularly around bulk water. I think I really just have one or two left in the line-by-line items, and Iíll wait until we get to them.

Chair:   Any additional general debate? Hearing none, weíll move on to line-by-line.

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On Clause 11

Ms. Duncan:   Clause 11 deals with the ministerís policy directions to the board. The minister may give written policy directions to the board with respect to carrying out the boardís functions. Which minister is intended by this section?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, that would be determined by where the Water Board goes, and thatís why the discussions are happening with government, and post-March 18 and pre-April 1, we will all know. I look forward to providing the response to the member opposite considering the debate weíve had on this issue in the last couple of days, but it will be sooner rather than later, hopefully.

Ms. Duncan:   Then, strictly from a policy and legal perspective, arenít we, as a Legislature, issuing a blank cheque here? Weíre providing a minister with authority, but we donít know whom weíre giving it to. We have no payee, so to speak, for this cheque. Isnít it a question the minister should be prepared to answer? No disrespect but, as a legislator, I am concerned. Here we are giving ministerial authority, weíre writing a cheque for water, but we donít know who the payee is. Isnít that a cause for concern for all members of the Legislature?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   At this point in time, until April 1, itís the Minister of DIAND, so itís not a blank cheque, and itíll be one of the ministers in this government who will take that function over post-April 1.

Ms. Duncan:   Itís just like Christmas ó wait and see. Somebody is going to find the Water Board under their Cabinet tree before April 1. Under their jurisdiction, under their able branches, somebody is going to have the Water Board. I look forward to the Premierís legislative return or response and I do apologize to the Premier, but Iím not going to hold my breath. But I do look forward to his answer.

Clause 11 agreed to

On Clause 12

Clause 12 agreed to

On Clause 13

Clause 13 agreed to

On Clause 14

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Ms. Duncan:   On clause 15, the board may require security. In clause 2, it says that the act is binding on the Government of Yukon, except the government is not required to pay any fee prescribed under regulations but the board may require security. Presumably it wouldnít be the Government of the Yukon applying for a water licence, such that we would require security. Iím wondering where the Yukon Development Corporation falls in this. Is it considered an agent of government so they would not be required to pay any fee under clause 2, or it is not an agent of government so the security can be required?

I donít need the answer to this question prior to clearing this section. I would accept a legislative return from the Premier on that particular answer. Itís just a question that I have.

I would just like it reflected in the record that the Premier has indicated that he will provide a legislative return.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, on the question of security as it relates to, Iím assuming, Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation, we will provide a legislative return to both the third party and official opposition.

Clause 15 agreed to

On Clause 16

Clause 16 agreed to

On Clause 17

Ms. Duncan:   Could I also have the question of government Crown corporations or agencies of government dealt with in respect to the assignment of licences? So the previous question I have asked with respect to clauses 2 and 15, would the legal counsel also address it with respect to clause 17?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, we will and incorporate it in the same response or legislative return.

Clause 17 agreed to

On Clause 18

Clause 18 agreed to

On Clause 19

Clause 19 agreed to

On Clause 20

Clause 20 agreed to

On Clause 21

Clause 21 agreed to

On Clause 22

Ms. Duncan:   With respect to clause 22 and the previous clauses, we had lengthy discussions about the rules of natural justice when the Wilderness Tourism Act was in this House, and did we provide appropriate notice and all of those things. I am assuming that, because this is mirror legislation, all of those issues required notice to applicant and all of those sorts of things have been covered off in this act. I would just like confirmation that my assumption is correct either in writing from the Premier or by legislative return.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, being that this is mirror legislation and the board, under the federal legislation and under this legislation being quasi-judicial, will be bound by the laws of general application.

Clause 22 agreed to

On Clause 23

Clause 23 agreed to

On Clause 24

Clause 24 agreed to

On Clause 25

Clause 25 agreed to

On Clause 26

Clause 26 agreed to

On Clause 27

Clause 27 agreed to

On Clause 28

Clause 28 agreed to

On Clause 29

Clause 29 agreed to

On Clause 30

Clause 30 agreed to

On Clause 31

Clause 31 agreed to

On Clause 32

Clause 32 agreed to

On Clause 33

Clause 33 agreed to

On Clause 34

Clause 34 agreed to

On Clause 35

Clause 35 agreed to

On Clause 36

Clause 36 agreed to

On Clause 37

Clause 37 agreed to

On Clause 38

Clause 38 agreed to

On Clause 39

Clause 39 agreed to

On Clause 40

Clause 40 agreed to

On Clause 41

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, clause 41 spells out the Minister of Justice. Is that where the Water Board is headed?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   When it comes to the issue of litigation, the Minister of Justice is responsible for litigation and therefore thatís the reason why itís here. It must be the Minister of Justice who oversees litigation. Hopefully, we wonít have any, but thatís the way it is and Iím sure under the federal system it was the same. Any litigation would revert to their Department of Justice and that appropriate minister.

Clause 41 agreed to

On Clause 42

Clause 42 agreed to

On Clause 43

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, this makes reference to members of the Water Board, and members of the Water Board who were previously members post the mirror legislation are still members. I do not believe the Water Board is listed in our list of committees and boards that we would like to see the House make all-party committee appointments to. Would the Premier consider adding the Yukon Water Board to that list once the committee, of course, is enacted? I appreciate theyíre currently federal appointments, but Yukon does make recommendations.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I think that, considering that the appointments will, even after April 1, be made on the same basis as they are now with the federal government and the Yukon government, we can certainly consider the proposal that the member put forward, but I think weíre going to have to look into it to see what relationship the federal government will have beyond just appointments and what they consider in this area. For now, weíll just leave it as it has always been ó the feds and us appointing the members to the board ó but it could be something that we can consider for an all-party committee. But that would then have to include the federal government.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, I appreciate that right now itís a federal-Yukon joint appointment. The fact is that Yukon makes recommendations. Iím asking the Premier to commit to broadening the recommendations submitted and including members of this side. So on the Yukon side, Yukon puts forward a name or the feds ask Yukon to agree to a name ó a name, three names, it doesnít matter.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan:   Exactly. The Premier is saying we do three. Let those three appointments be part of the all-party committee.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Chair, Iíve already said that we would give that due consideration ó the proposal that the member of the third party has put on the floor. So, we will take it under advisement and give it full consideration.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 43?

Clause 43 agreed to

On Clause 44

Clause 44 agreed to

On Clause 45

Mr. Hardy:   Just a concern, and maybe a possible consideration for the government. Regarding the language ó it has English and French publications to be made available. But with our desire and our support for the First Nation languages in certain regions, and as we try to get them to expand and grow, would there be some consideration to ensure, where the predominant language, other than English or French, in that area exists, that, upon request, anything that is a notice to the public would be made available in the predominant language, other than those two languages?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Under our Languages Act, the government is permitted to print legislation in other languages, and itís something we can consider. But I think the member opposite can understand that, you know, there is a lot of work in this area when bills are being drafted and translations are being done. So, itís something that would have to be looked at in great detail as to how it can be done.

I think the member and I have experienced difficulties in trying to get translations done in the past when legislation is in the hopper and being prepared and having the legislation brought to the floor of the Legislature complete. So, itís something that can be looked at. We do have the ability to do it under our laws, and take it from there.

Mr. Hardy:   I appreciate the comments from the Premier, but Iím looking at ó not that it would be all legislation or all bills or everything that is happening ó Iím talking more like where itís predominant in that area. When Iím thinking of this, Iím thinking, of course, of some of the areas of the Yukon as they try to develop, regain and strengthen their language within their traditional territories, and that may end up being the predominant language. It would be something that, down the road, I would hope that we consider when any kind of notices or pieces of legislation are being drafted ó that they would have that option to have it in a language that they are most comfortable with.

Chair:   Is there any further debate?

Clause 45 agreed to

On Clause 46

Clause 46 agreed to

On Title

Title agreed to

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Chair, I move that Bill No. 25, entitled Waters Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that Bill No. 25, entitled Waters Act, be reported out of Committee without amendment.

Motion agreed to

Chair:   We will now proceed with Bill No. 26, Environmental Assessment Act.

Bill No. 26 ó Environmental Assessment Act

Chair:   Do members wish a recess?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   Five-minute recess.

Recess

Chair:   Order please. We will now proceed with Bill No. 26, Environmental Assessment Act. Is there any general debate?

Mr. Cardiff:   I just have a couple of things that I would like to address. Iím not sure exactly what the procedure is, but my concerns are definitely based around my constituentsí concerns about land developments in the Yukon and whether or not projects that the government itself takes on, such as land development, will be required to undergo the scrutiny in this legislation.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, government projects that require implementation and application of the Environmental Assessment Act are required to do exactly that. Government is not exempt. So, if government has a project thatís going to take place out there on the land base, then the act applies to government also.

Mr. Cardiff:   Just a couple more things for clarity. Does it not matter what the size of the project is?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   To trigger the act, the threshold must be reached in size and I imagine there are other things. We donít have that information at our fingertips but I can certainly provide the member with what those thresholds are that would trigger application of the act.

Mr. Cardiff:   Yes, Iíd appreciate that.

I guess the other concern that was raised with me around this piece of legislation is the issue of grandfathering projects that are already underway. So if thereís a project on the books for development right now, whether or not that would be grandfathered through this or whether ó because the Cats havenít hit the ground yet and no dirt has been moved, so will it be grandfathered or will that development be subject to going through this assessment?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I think there are a couple of parts to this. First of all, this is mirror legislation, so whatever is happening with the federal government right now, as far as their legislation, is mirrored here. Therefore, if there is a project that has gone through screening and is in the stages of receiving licences, that would not stop with us taking over with this legislation. If there are projects in the process of screening that have not completed the screening process and come to a determination, even under this legislation, that process would continue to the final analysis.

So weíre just carbon copying exactly what the federal government has and what is ongoing right now with the federal government and bringing it over to the Yukon government.

Mr. Cardiff:   This is where there seems to be a problem, because my understanding from the meetings Iíve attended is that the development in question ó and Iím sure everybody knows what development Iím talking about ó wasnít required to go through the Canadian environmental assessment, because the territorial government was exempt.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Iím assuming weíre talking about this thing out in Wolf Creek? We can get you the specifics on it. I canít say definitively that the Yukon government is exempt on that particular project. It may be because of the threshold. We donít know that, but weíll find that information so the member has the detail on exactly what is taking place there.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, yes, I suppose the sooner the better for the threshold part of it. The way that I read the legislation without specifically saying which line, I suppose ó it says that an environmental assessment of a project is required before a territorial authority exercises one of the following powers or performs one of the following duties. And it goes on ó namely where a territorial authority is.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. Cardiff:   I can wait and deal with it in clause-by-clause if you want to do it that way.

Chair:   If youíre asking about a specific clause, then we should deal with that at clause-by-clause.

Mr. Cardiff:  Yes, we can do that.

Ms. Duncan:   With respect to general debate, this mirror legislation mirrors exactly CEAA, as I understand it ó Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. So itís the Yukonís Environmental Assessment Act and itís in place to ensure there are no gaps so that thereís a set of rules that apply. Itís not like from midnight to 12:05 there were no rules. Thereís a set of rules.

Will the Premier explain where development assessment process fits in this process? Now itís referred to as YESAA, but DAP is what we all know it by. Where does DAP fit into this?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The memberís correct that CEAA, the federal legislation, is mirrored in YEAA, which is the Yukon legislation, so weíre going from CEAA to YEAA ó just a little pun there, Mr. Chair.

Seriously, it is the exact copy of CEAA. The development assessment process will come into force and effect upon its completion. First and second readings were completed. Third reading vote was expected in Parliament after March 17 sometime, and a standing committee will review the bill before the bill receives royal assent and becomes federal law, and that could be sometime this spring.

So, weíre looking at approximately an 18-month period before development assessment process/Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act comes into force and effect and then would replace the Yukon Environmental Assessment Act in the Yukon.

Ms. Duncan:   So, Mr. Chair, what I heard the member explain to the public is that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is in place, the Yukon Environmental Assessment Act will take force and effect when CEAA is no longer there ó itís mirror legislation ó and that the Yukon Environmental Assessment Act will be in place until DAP or YESAA is implemented.

Now, what I also heard the Premier say is that DAP was completed, in that it is going for third reading vote on or about March 17, depending on the House of Commons calendar. So, DAP was completed under the watch of the previous government then ó the legislative drafting, unless the government has made representations or any changes to it since taking office. Have any changes been made to the DAP legislation since the government took office?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   No, there hasnít been on DAP legislation, Mr. Chair. And I thought the member said that CEAA would be repealed. This is still federal legislation, so it will still be applied elsewhere, and there have been no changes. Weíre awaiting third reading vote, and then we expect ó sometime this spring, should all that happen ó royal assent.

And then part 1 of the legislation will come into effect to establish a new DAP assessment board. That will begin an 18-month implementation planning process. Once that is complete, part 2 will then come into effect, and projects will start to be assessed under DAP or YESAA. So, the expectation here, if all goes according to those timelines, we could see assessments starting under DAP in the fall of 2004.

Ms. Duncan:   I apologize if I erred in my comment. What I meant was that the Yukon Environmental Assessment Act will be repealed because DAP will take its place.

The Yukon Environmental Assessment Act will be repealed because DAP will take its place.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan:   Right. So the Premier said that the Senate committee, in third reading vote, will take place on legislation that was concluded under our watch. Does the Premier or the Government of Yukon plan to make any representations for third reading to either of other parties in the House or make representations to the Senate committee on this legislation?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   No, weíre not considering doing that at all. I think the process as far as the development assessment process is well underway now in Parliament ó to its completion at that level, at least.

Obviously the development assessment process legislation has been something long awaited here. It has been worked on for a long, long time, including commissions and all kinds of other things. So, we are looking at the timelines that are being provided on what is going on in Ottawa. We accept those timelines.

I think we will consider, in looking at this, the possibilities if weíre asked to make representation on behalf of Yukoners when it comes to the development assessment process. That has not happened to date, to the best of my knowledge. And I think that now whatís important is that we know it is coming. We know this legislation will replace the mirrored legislation from Ottawa, and I think it is critical that we focus on implementation and making things work. Itís Yukon legislation. Itís home-grown, if you will. Frankly, itís probably high time that we got to this juncture. The spirit and intent of the development assessment process is certainly something that is much more focused on Yukoners being in control and in charge of their own decisions and reviews and developments, so itís very much a Yukon-made piece of legislation.

I guess we could say there are always issues and problems with people and groups who see things from a certain perspective but, all in all, considering the timelines and the work that has gone into this, it is probably counterproductive and not in the best interests to try and do anything that would derail this process. It is coming and letís get it implemented so that we can start utilizing our own legislation. The way things are structured right now, it looks like that might be happening by the fall of 2004. However, we can never tell what might develop in our hallowed halls of Parliament or the Senate.

Ms. Duncan:   I would just like to review what the Premier said to me and then relate an experience. The Premier has said that it is a good thing to get this legislation home, get on with the process of Yukoners being in control. Yukoners should deal with this. It is homegrown after all. He neglected to mention that it is also a requirement under the Umbrella Final Agreement, but I am sure that was just an oversight. The important point is pass it, get on with it; bring this legislation home; it is important. The Premier also indicated that he didnít disagree with my assertion that it was concluded by our government. The legislation that is going through Parliament is largely concluded. Governments have worked on it, but it was concluded under our government. My point to the Premier is that the exact same arguments apply under devolution. The exact same arguments apply to the devolution transfer agreement and the Yukon Act. It is home grown; it is the best we could do. It is a good agreement and lets get it home and get on with it. The exact arguments apply.

With respect to the Yukon act and the devolution transfer agreement, if I could share with the Premier that there were hearings on that ó House of Commons hearings on that piece of legislation. There may be Senate hearings on the DAP legislation. They wonít necessarily seek us out, but itís important that Yukonís views be on the record, so I would encourage the Premier to seek representation if the Senate is holding hearings on this, to seek out the support of members in the House, to ensure speedy passage of this bill, because all kinds of interesting things go on in the House of Commons and the Senate, and itís important that Yukonís voice be heard.

I would encourage him to make representations on this bill, just as we ó former leaders and I ó made representation on the Yukon Act. It helps policy makers and decision makers in the House and the Senate to do their work when they hear from Yukoners, especially on a piece of Yukon legislation like this that is so important to the Yukon. DAP is as important to our future as the Yukon Act, as the DTA. The Yukon Act came close to going off the rails over some obscure issue that wasnít even a Yukon issue. Fortunately, we had people there making representations and answering the questions.

I understand that the Premier may be tied up in the House and may have duties here that prevent him from making an appearance before a committee. If itís not the Premier, then I would also encourage the Premier to consider providing the funding for other groups that support the legislation, such as the Council of Yukon First Nations and perhaps the Yukon Chamber of Mines, which has made representation in support of DAP, to attend the Senate hearings, to be there.

There have been representations made by these organizations already, at the House of Commons hearings ó the Senate. I am just strongly encouraging the Premier. He has made the argument that this is homegrown legislation. We hope there is speedy passage. We look forward to its implementation. The same arguments apply to devolution in the Yukon Act, and I would encourage the Premier to do as other governments have done and make representation to decision makers in Ottawa on the DAP legislation.

That being said, the Premier has also said that in 2004 we would look at the full implementation ó I think those were the words he used ó of the DAP or YESAA legislation.

So, is the Premier saying that we are looking at a legislative calendar of fall 2003 for this legislation? Thatís this fall. Will we be looking at DAP legislation or YESAA legislation for the Yukon this fall?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I think itís important to note that there are two parts to this. If all goes well in the House of Commons and the Senate, the legislation will be passed in the spring. Then thereís an 18-month implementation planning process. That is part 2. Then the legislation would come fully into effect, which would see us doing assessments under this legislation by the fall of 2004. Those are the timelines. The 18 months would begin on part 2 once the bill has passed in Ottawa ó the procedures it must go through. The expectation is sometime this spring. And then part 2 kicks in, which is the 18-month implementation planning phase ó once it is complete and in full force and effect and assessments under DAP by the fall of 2004.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, two points: if all goes well, it will be passed this spring. Iím just trying to encourage the Premier to do everything he can to make sure all goes well and make some representations or assist others in making representations. Thereís nothing like the face-to-face answering of the question of legislators of, yes, this is what the Yukon wants. Thereís no substitute for it.

The 18-month planning process that will kick in and assessments beginning 2004 ó Iím just not clear when itís on our legislative calendar. We ran into this issue with the Oil and Gas Act, where Ottawa had to pass and then we had to accept. Are we passing a development assessment process act, or are we just going to repeal this other act, and where is it on the legislative calendar?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, this is a federal act. Weíre not going to have our own Yukon development assessment process act, but once this comes into full force and effect, we have to repeal the Yukon Environmental Assessment Act.

Ms. Duncan:   So what the Premier has told me is our only job now as legislators is to repeal the act weíre trying to pass right now in debate? The only thing weíre going to have to do is repeal this act? So the development assessment process act, once it is passed through the House of Commons and the Senate, thatís it, thatís all, and our job will be to repeal the act? So where do we go for amendments? Do we have to go back to the House of Commons? What happens after the 18-month implementation window when weíve started on this? How are we going to amend it?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   As it stands, Mr. Chair, amendments have to be done in Ottawa. Federal legislation, which is spawned from the Umbrella Final Agreement and that is just the way it is. You know there is probably room for discussion around this but that is the process as it has evolved. So we are looking at repealing our own act in 2004 when that comes into full force and effect. And then amendments to YESAA will require amendments in parliament.

Ms. Duncan:   The act is federal legislation so the appointments to the DAP board, or YESAA board, are going to be federal but with Yukon input and First Nation input. So I would encourage that there be all-party input into the Yukonís recommendations, and the Premier has previously indicated that he would take that suggestion under advisement, so I would hope he would do the same with this one.

When is the 18-month window before they start hearing assessments? Is it April 2003 ó once it has passed the House ó when the Premier anticipates seeking nominations to this board? Because it is at the start of the implementation process that the board is established. So is it spring of this year that we are looking at appointments to YESAA?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Once part 1 of the enforcement of this legislation comes into effect, then we establish the DAP assessment board. It is that board that will begin the part 2 segment of the 18-month implementation planning segment and then full force and effect. So the board will have to be appointed once the legislation has passed Parliament and gone through the Senate and is given effect there. From that, the board will then go out and do its 18-month planning phase and come into full force and effect in the fall of 2004.

Ms. Duncan:   So with any luck at all, and all being well ó Iím sure the minister is going to make representations to ensure that all goes well ó we would be looking at Yukon, Canada and CYFN appointing a DAP board this spring. The Premier is nodding in agreement.

Is the Premier going to wait until it gets through the House and the Senate to seek nominations, and what process does he envision for seeking nominations to the DAP board?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I think, for now, that certainly we will check with the DAP unit to see what they have on file on how this is going to proceed, but it would be advisable that it gets through third reading and on into the Senate. I take the memberís suggestion of an all-party committee under advisement.

Ms. Duncan:   What I am expecting is that the Premier will advise what initiatives have been undertaken by the government or others to seek nominations for this first important DAP board that will begin the application. So the Premier will provide a legislative return on what nominations have been sought to date, either by Canada, Yukon or CYFN.

I am interested in these nominations and when the nomination process might begin. If the Premier could respond to that by legislative return, I would appreciate it.

Chair:   Is there further general debate?

Ms. Duncan:   Where will the public servants who work on the DAP board be working out of? Which government department will the public servants who work on behalf of the DAP board be working out of?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The DAP unit will be housed in the Executive Council Office. The responsibilities will lie there, and itís called taking on the responsibilities of the Yukon environmental assessment branch, so itís in Executive Council Office.

Ms. Duncan:   I have to ask ó are they with the Water Board?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Nice try.

Chair:   Is there further general debate?

Mr. Hardy:   Yes, I just read the beginning on this mirror legislation: "The Government of Yukon is committed to facilitating public participation and environmental assessment projects to be carried out by" Ö blah blah blah. Could the Premier give me an idea of how that public participation will happen?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The member is not dealing with DAP; heís dealing with the Yukon Environmental Assessment Act. The federal government had a process. Weíre not sure if that process has to be mirrored also, so weíll get the DAP unit to provide detailed information and give it to the member and the third party as to how we proceed with the assessments, who does them, so on and so forth. Weíll get the complete detail so there are no questions about exactly how this will proceed.

Mr. Hardy:   I thank the member. As long as we get the details, then it will probably deal with exactly what I want here. We can move into line-by-line, if everybody is finished with general.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, weíll move on to line-by-line.

On Clause 1

Clause 1 agreed to

On Clause 2

Clause 2 agreed to

On Clause 3

Clause 3 agreed to

On Clause 4

Mr. Cardiff:   This is where I was going earlier. Clause 4 says, "An environmental assessment of a project is required before a territorial authority exercises one of the following powers or performs one of the following duties or functions in respect of a project, namely, where a territorial authority (a) is the proponent of the project and does any act or thing that commits the territorial authority to carrying out the project in whole or in partÖ" Again, this is about where Community Services, the land development branch, is developing subdivisions. If you go to subclause (c) of that section, it also says where a territorial authority "Ö has authority to administer territorial lands and sells, leases, or otherwise disposes of those lands or any interests Ö" Thatís basically my question about this whole thing ó why would a development such as whatís taking place in the Whitehorse Copper land development not be subject to an environmental assessment?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I canít tell the Member for Mount Lorne whether, prior to the development actually taking place, that specific area did not receive an environmental assessment. And, as I have pointed out earlier, we will get the detail on this and see what exactly transpired, whether it didnít meet the threshold or whatever the issues were there. So we will have to get some detail around this. It could go back quite some time. We donít know when that land was designated or zoned to be what it is. So there is going to have to be a little research on how far back this goes, but we will get the information for the member.

Mr. Cardiff:   I guess if necessary a legal opinion on that? You said youíve got lawyers so ó

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   If we followed the logic of the third party, they are too busy. But if the member is requesting the legalese around whatever decision was used in this particular instance, yes, we can provide you the opinion.

You know there is another issue here, too, that includes the City of Whitehorse. So I think we have to be clear on exactly what all the components are that resulted in where we are at today. So this could take some time to get all the pieces put together and provide the member with the correct detail so there is an answer to his question.

Mr. Cardiff:   I think that my constituents would be satisfied with that as long as the development doesnít start before we get the answers.

Chair:   Is there any further debate on clause 4?

Clause 4 agreed to

On Clause 5

Clause 5 agreed to

On Clause 6

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, is it the intention of clause 6 to refer to government corporations ó YDC, YEC, Yukon Housing Corporation? Are those the organizations this section is intended to cover?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, it is meant to cover those three corporations and corporations established or controlled by them.

Ms. Duncan:   So, then, in following up on the argument presented by the Member for Mount Lorne, the Yukon Housing Corporation, prior to developing Mountainview Place, would have had to apply for an environmental assessment?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Hereís where one of the glitches come in. The federal government doesnít have Yukon Housing Corporation, Yukon Energy Corporation and so on, so that had to be inputted into the bill. But the issue in question, Mountainview, that was done under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, so we have to check into this, get the detail and provide the information. We donít have it here in terms of dealing with this act before us because of the fact that CEAA would have been the legal mechanism used should any assessment have taken place in this area.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, then, logically, though, once we pass this act, if the Yukon Housing Corporation was going to do something like develop a Mountainview Place in a month from now or two months from now, logically, then, they would have to apply. Iím wondering if Iím reading the legislation correctly.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   There may be a transitional issue coming from CEAA over, but if this is a brand new issue yes, theyíd have to apply.

Clause 6 agreed to

On Clause 7

Clause 7 agreed to

On Clause 8

Clause 8 agreed to

On Clause 9

Clause 9 agreed to

On Clause 10

Clause 10 agreed to

On Clause 11

Clause 11 agreed to

On Clause 12

Clause 12 agreed to

On Clause 13

Clause 13 agreed to

On Clause 14

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, just a point of clarification. In the sections debated to date, including clause 14, thereís no mention of explicit time frames ó screenings must be completed by 30 days, 60 days, 70 days. Thatís not included in this legislation. My understanding is that it is in the development assessment process legislation, and I would just like the Premier to confirm that, although the time frames are not included in this legislation because itís mirror legislation, we do have time frames negotiated in the development assessment process legislation.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I have actually heard the same thing, but I havenít seen it with my own eyes and have not had any briefing that would reflect that. So we will get the hard facts and present it to the member.

Clause 14 agreed to

On Clause 15

Clause 15 agreed to

On Clause 16

Clause 16 agreed to

On Clause 17

Clause 17 agreed to

On Clause 18

Clause 18 agreed to

On Clause 19

Clause 19 agreed to

On Clause 20

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order, Mr. Chair.

Point of order

Chair:   Member for Klondike, on a point of order.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Chair, I was hopeful that perhaps the opposition would consider expediting the business of the House by granting deemed read and carried all the balances of the sections of this piece of legislation and then we can complete all this legislation.

Unanimous consent re deeming clauses of Bill No. 26 read and agreed to

Chair:   Mr. Jenkins has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all clauses, schedules, the preamble and the title of Bill No. 26 read and agreed to. Is there unanimous consent?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Some Hon. Members:   Disagreed.

Chair:   There was not unanimous consent. Therefore we will continue on with clause-by-clause debate.

Ms. Duncan:   With respect to clause 20, we have not cleared that yet ó is that correct?

Chair:   That is correct.

Ms. Duncan:   I have a question on clause 20 when we get to that.

Chair:   Is there any debate on clause 20?

Ms. Duncan:   This is relating to the use of previously conducted environmental assessments. This is also an issue that was discussed under the DAP legislation and also under CEAA. My understanding is that projects that have been previously permitted under CEAA are good; the permits are valid. So, in this case, an environmental assessment conducted on a project ó once weíve passed this mirror legislation ó should still be good and that it holds good under DAP. Can the Premier confirm that?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, any project that has gone through CEAA and has been permitted would also have the same ó under this legislation and under DAP itself. Iím not sure if you use the term "grandfathered", but once it has had its screening and has been permitted, under this legislation there will not be a requirement that that permit be cancelled and it be re-screened. It can carry on in accordance with the terms and conditions of the permit received from the CEAA screening.

Ms. Duncan:   Would the Premier confirm that that holds true for projects that were permitted and/or environmentally assessed pre-CEAA?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, weíre getting back there now. Weíll have to find out exactly what it may mean on a project that is pre-CEAA with respect to this legislation and DAP.

Ms. Duncan:   Itís important for the public record that the answer to this question be a legislative return and not just a letter to me, because there were projects that were environmentally assessed pre-CEAA, were permitted pre-CEAA, and believe their permits to still be valid. And, as a former member of the government, I believe them to still be valid, and I believe theyíre still valid under DAP. So, if I could just ask the Premier to ensure that the answer he gives me on this ó the confirmation of this ó is on the public record.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Yes, most certainly, we want to get the exact detail on this, and weíll provide it in the form of a legislative return. Thatís the best form of public record when it comes to this type of detail. I consider that to be a good question because these are things probably Yukoners ó at least some Yukoners ó are wondering about. Not everybody has been fully briefed in the territory ó or those Outside who may be involved in the territory in some capacity but have not been fully briefed on exactly what is going to take place here. So, we will provide that information in detail.

And Mr. Chair, considering the time on the old Swiss clock, I now move that we report progress.

Chair:   Mr. Fentie has moved that we now report progress.

Motion agreed to

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

Speaker resumes the Chair

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.

May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 24, Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, and Bill No. 25, Waters Act, and has directed me to report them without amendment.

They have also directed me to report progress on Bill No. 26, Environmental Assessment Act.

Speaker:   You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I move that the House do now adjourn.

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

Motion agreed to

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

The House adjourned at 5:59 p.m.

 

 

The following Sessional Paper was tabled March 18, 2003:

03-1-15

Government Contracting Summary Report by Department (April 1, 2002 Ė December 31, 2002) (Hart)

 

The following Document was filed March 18, 2003:

03-1-1

Public Service Act, Act to Amend the (Bill No. 74) from the Second Session of the 30th Legislative Assembly (Duncan)