Whitehorse, Yukon

Wednesday, April 2, 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. Kenyon:   I have for tabling the term report of the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment, January 2001 to March 2002.

Speaker:   Are there any other returns or documents for tabling?

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

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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that the minister responsible for the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board should immediately table all letters recommending individuals for the position of Chair of the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Is there a ministerial statement?

Speakerís statement

Speaker:   Before we proceed with Question Period, the Chair wishes to address an issue that arose in the House yesterday during Question Period and during Committee of the Whole. Numerous references were made to members being secretive or having concluded or participated in secret deals or backroom deals. These accusations were levelled at members of the current government and the past government, including one individual who is no longer a member of this House.

It is clear from the context in which these comments were made that they suggest members of this House, past and present, have attempted or are attempting to deceive this Assembly, the Yukon public or both. This is not in order.

As House of Commons Procedure and Practice notes, on page 525, the proceedings of the House are based on a long-standing tradition of respect for the integrity of all members. A direct charge or accusation against a member may only be made by way of a substantive motion for which notice is required. Further, it is clear from the events in Committee of the Whole that accusations of secretive behaviour caused disorder in the House. Therefore, in future, suggestions of secretive behaviour that infer deception will be ruled out of order.

We will now proceed with Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re: Government accountability

Mr. Hardy:   I have a question for the Premier regarding the most fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy. Passing laws or repealing laws is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Legislative Assembly. That is why we are here. That is what we do. The Premier cannot pass laws; he cannot revoke laws. Cabinet cannot pass laws; it cannot revoke laws. Only the Assembly can do these things.

Yesterday, in response to a question about the Government Accountability Act, the Premier made the following statement, which is recorded in the Blues: "What we have done is revoked that legislation." In light of the fact that this Assembly has not yet voted to repeal that act, does the Premier wish to revisit that statement?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, the member well knows that on the docket for this sitting is the Act to Repeal the Government Accountability Act, as is the budget, as are a number of other items. We are going through that process of debate here in the Assembly, as we should; that is our responsibility. I would offer to the member that that is exactly what is happening here. The bill to repeal the Government Accountability Act is now in process.

Mr. Hardy:   Like it or not, until this Assembly passes Bill No. 27, the Government Accountability Act is the law. That law says the Minister of Finance must table a consolidated accountability plan with the main estimates. The minister did not do that, Mr. Speaker. The laws say that the Minister of Finance must include a statement of responsibility with that plan. The minister did not do that. The law says that all other ministers must prepare accountability plans for each department for inclusion in the main estimates. They must include statements of accountability. The ministers did not do that.

Why did the Premier knowingly allow his Cabinet ministers, including himself, to ignore the clear mandatory requirements of the Government Accountability Act?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The member is incorrect in the assessment. In fact there are accountability statements and we have gone back to the old formats. It is the department objectives and mandate. The budget also consists of the statistics, which were part of the old format. Again, the repealing of the accountability act is in process. It is on the floor of this Legislature for debate and conclusion and assent, as is the budget. We are in due process with these items, and the member is simply wrong in his assessment.

Mr. Hardy:   Section 7 of the act states that if the Minister of Finance does not make a consolidated accountability plan or departmental accountability plans public at the time required, he must make a public and written statement giving the reasons. This must take place no more than seven days after the accountability plans should have been made public. The minister had until March 13 to issue that written statement. He has not done that.

This is a serious matter. It is not a technicality or an oversight. If we in this House do not obey the laws we pass, how can we expect Yukon people to respect and obey the laws? How does the Premier intend to deal with this situation and remove the blot on the credibility of all elected members of the Assembly?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, again, Mr. Speaker, I must disagree with the member. Thereís no credibility in question here whatsoever. The member fully knows and well knows that the repealing of the Government Accountability Act is on the docket ó knows that completely, without any doubt. The member also knows that the accountability assessment for the budget is there on the pages for each department through the objectives and the statistics, which was the old format.

But more importantly, weíre accountable to the Yukon public in what we do in terms of passing legislation, passing budgets, and debating these items on the floor of this Legislature ó not trying to score political points by some opinion of a legal technicality.

Mr. Speaker, there is no credibility question here. The memberís credibility is not in question. The third partyís credibility is not in question. The governmentís credibility is not in question. The Chairís credibility is not in question. We are following due process. Thatís what governments should do. Thatís what this Legislative Assembly should do.

Question re:  Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board, chair appointment

Mr. Cardiff:   My question is for the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. The minister has ignored representation from stakeholders, who categorically opposed the ministerís hand-picked selection for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board chair.

By naming such a clearly partisan Yukon Party supporter as the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board chair, the minister has changed the armís-length relationship to a thumbís-length relationship. Will the minister provide the details of the consultations process he used and tell the House who, besides the minister, explicitly gave their support to his choice for board chair?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The new Chair of Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board was the only name put forward that had previous experience as chair. He was the most experienced, the most able and the most qualified.

Mr. Cardiff:   But there were other people with experience whose names were put forward.

In its landmark decision, Del gamuukw, the Supreme Court of Canada defined what is now commonly known as "meaningful consultation". Hereís the courtís definition: "To reasonably ensure that persons being consulted are provided with all necessary information in a timely way, so they can have the opportunity to express their interests and concerns and to ensure that their representations are seriously considered and, wherever possible, demonstrably integrated into the proposed plan of action."

Mr. Speaker, will the minister now explain how the consultation process he followed in selecting the WCB chair was meaningful to anyone except him?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   For the record, a whole series of letters was sent out to all of the stakeholder groups. I believe there were 40 to 50 letters that went out from my office, Mr. Speaker, and they blanketed. On receipt of this information, the proper vetting took place and the most able, experienced and qualified individual was selected from among the names put forward, and weíre very fortunate to have him.

Mr. Speaker, it must be clearly pointed out that the party opposite ó the NDP ó upon taking power, for purely political reasons, fired the member of the board on a previous occasion.

Mr. Cardiff:   The minister alluded to 40 pieces of documentation in this consultation. I would ask him to table those documents.

Mr. Speaker, several of the stakeholders whom the minister consulted have suggested to the minister a more constructive approach for choosing the WCB chair and the alternate chair to ensure neutrality. It involves the ministerís office generating a short list of potential nominees and building consensus among the stakeholders, but the minister is ignoring the advice of the stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, why has the minister chosen to politicize the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The member oppositeís overview of this situation is incorrect, totally incorrect. The board has to concentrate on its mandate, and that is to serve injured workers in an expeditious and fair manner. Thatís where the concentration has to be placed.

The individual who has been selected from the names put forward by the stakeholder groups is the most experienced as a board chair. Heís the most qualified and able. Weíre fortunate to have him. The previous Minister of Health spent endless amounts of time under the Liberal regime lobbying this same individual to be Chair of the Hospital Corporation. So his credentials across the Yukon are right in the forefront, and this is a very capable individual who will hopefully get the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board directed in the area it has to be, and that is to serve the needs of injured workers in a fair and expeditious and reasonable manner.

Question re:  Convenience contracts

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House we learned that the government had rewarded, through appointment, a long-time Yukon Party friend, and this is part of a very disturbing pattern that we are seeing from this government. Today I have some questions for the Premier relating to contracts issued to another of the very good friends, former Yukon Party candidate Lynn Ogden ó contracts that this government was not willing to provide when I asked for them.

Speaker:   Order please. I would ask you not to name individuals who cannot defend themselves in the House, please.

Ms. Duncan:   Certainly. These are names that are on the contract. I donít have a business name. These are contracts that I was only able to obtain, although I had asked the minister for them, under the Access to Information Act and Protection of Privacy Act. Most consulting contracts are either issued as sole-source contracts, individual tenders or publicly advertised tenders. The contracts to this individual did not go through any of these processes. Instead, what is called a convenience contract was used. It is very convenient, Mr. Speaker. These contracts do not show up on the public contract registry. No one knows the contracts exist, other than the fact that the Premier ó

Speaker:   Would the member ask her question, please.

Ms. Duncan:   Certainly. Will the Premier explain why the convenience contract approach was used in this instance?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   There are certain terms and conditions involving how government would contract out specific duties ó sole source being one of them ó but thereís also a threshold involved here and thatís why this particular vehicle and mechanism, a convenience contract, is there. We did not invent it. We did not implement it. It was there. Itís part of standard practice and governments in the past have used many mechanisms in this area. The member opposite has access to contract registry, to sole-source contracts, and Iím sure, if the member would exercise a little patience, Mr. Speaker, a copy of the contract would have been provided to her.

Ms. Duncan:   Well, Mr. Speaker, patience is one thing. Having to access these contracts through the access to information is different, and I should not have had to use it; however, I did. The ministerís explanation of a convenience contract is, quite frankly, incorrect. A convenience contract is used for goods and services, not normally consulting services; and convenience contracts are not available on the contract registries. One of the contracts is related to child care. Despite repeated requests, I only got the contract, as Iíve said, through the access to information. I was not provided with the information for this individual with respect to qualifications. I asked for reports or product that the government had received ó what did we get for our money? ó from this contract. The answer I received was nothing. The ministerís own department said no product has been delivered by this contractor. Itís bad enough that ó

Speaker:   Would the member please ask the question.

Ms. Duncan:   Certainly. When is the taxpayer going to see product from this particular contract?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, the member opposite made a conscious choice to use access to information to obtain this information that would have been made available to her in a reasonable amount of time. Thatís what this government does; thatís what any government does. Weíre not holding back information from the member opposite ó not at all. Itís the member that made the conscious choice to use the access to information at a cost to taxpayers when we would have made the information available to her in due course.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, regarding the product the member is seeking, it would be customary to allow the individual to complete their work, compile the information theyíve gathered and create their report ó the product the member is seeking ó and present that. When that is completed, we will present it to the public and to this House and to all, who deem it necessary, to review it.

Ms. Duncan:   I made the conscious choice because the contract was not forthcoming from the government. Access to information requests are filled in due course, in a matter of time.

So far, we have received nothing for this contract. The same individual also got a contract to review mirror legislation, the devolution bills that have passed through this Legislature. The problem is that those bills had been reviewed by lawyers, Yukon government staff and constitutional experts for the past six years. This contract wasnít even issued until March 3. The bills were tabled in the House on March 3. There were no changes to the bills. It was a complete waste of money. The only benefit was to the individual who had the contract.

Will the Premier do the right thing and ask the Yukon Party, and not the Yukon taxpayers, to cover this bill?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   The memberís assessment is opinion. It certainly does not reflect what has transpired. We, as a government, upon taking office, knew full well that the mirror legislation must be passed. We took the steps necessary to ensure that, in fact, it was mirror legislation. It was a very reasonable cost. I am sure the member already has that amount. It was very reasonable. It was the prudent thing to do. The qualifications in this area are the need to be able to compile information, disseminate that information, critique that information and ensure that what we have tabled in the Legislature is in fact mirror legislation, as it was supposed to be or meant to be.

So the government has followed any standard procedure, and the member opposite is merely stating an opinion in this House.

Question re: Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board appointments

Mr. Cardiff:   I would like to follow up with the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board once again on his plans for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. On this side of the House we do not think the minister is through with abandoning the Meredith Principles, transforming the board into his own likeness and overhauling the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, something for which neither the Yukon Party nor the minister have any mandate whatsoever. Yesterday an employer representative resigned from the WCB citing concerns. So now there is one employer representative and one employee representative vacancy. Will the minister tell this House what plans he has to appoint a full complement of six members to the WCB by the end of this month?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I would encourage the member opposite, before he asks a question, to understand the act and the legislation surrounding the question. The act is very specific as to the makeup of the board. It can be from four to six members; that is the whole issue, the whole crux. The memberís premise for his question is very incorrect.

Mr. Cardiff:   Obviously the minister thinks that four people can do the job better than six people and that reducing representation on the board is a good thing. Thank you. The minister has made his archaic views on Workersí Compensation well known over the years.

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

Unparliamentary language

Speaker:   Order please. The term "archaic" is bordering on unparliamentary and I would ask that you not to use that.

Mr. Cardiff:   Okay, his old-fashioned views. The minister would have Yukon workers and employers believe they would be better off with a Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board and return to a time in which the ministerís political philosophy was current ó the 18th century.

Neither the minister nor the government has any mandate to overhaul Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, and there is no government policy on this important issue; it is only the minister on some unknown political trajectory. When will the minister table the governmentís policy on Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, or will it be run solely on the whim of the minister responsible? Or perhaps he could make a ministerial statement.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Our governmentís position is well known. The issue that WCB has to face is the issue itís mandated to address, and those are the principles of the Meredith Principles and what flows from them. Now, to that end, in a large part, the target has been missed. There are delays in injured workers receiving compensation and being addressed in a timely manner in all of those areas. Thatís where the concentration has to be focused.

This political rambling over the chair of the board ó the chair who has recently been appointed is the most qualified, experienced and able, and the Yukon is very, very fortunate to have an individual of this calibre in place as chair.

Mr. Cardiff:   The novice minister responsible for ó okay, the minister responsible Ö

Speaker:   Thank you.

Mr. Cardiff:   Ö for WCB clearly has a lot on his plate. Itís overflowing. He has angered Yukon seniors, womenís groups, the youth, organized labour, family support workers and the people to whom they provide services. Heís having problems managing the governmentís business in the House, as evidenced by his botched handling of the Government Accountability Act. Itís time for the Premier to lighten the load of this minister.

Will the Premier relieve the minister responsible for the WCB of his responsibilities while the government still has remnants of credibility with workers and employers on WCB issues?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Usually in the past, Mr. Speaker, the credibility of a member ó and especially a minister in this House, has been raised with a request from the opposition for that ministerís resignation. This has happened to me now on two occasions, so I thank the opposition for the recognition of my role. Just for the record, Mr. Speaker, the issue of Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board is an issue that our government takes very seriously, as evidenced by the appointment of the most capable individual whose name was put forward by the stakeholder groups.

Question re:  Mineral claims assessment fees, waiving of

Mr. Hardy:   I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources on a familiar topic, and Iím sure he has done some research. I hope he has. The minister insists the relief he quietly provided to miners, as he stated yesterday, is an assessment not a tax break. Itís a matter of definition, Mr. Speaker. If someone is required to pay government for doing something or, in this case, not doing something, it may be called a "fee", a "fine", a "levy", a "surcharge", an "assessment" or a host of other things. At the bottom line, itís a tax. When government decides not to collect it, for whatever reasons, government is foregoing revenue.

Will the minister tell us how much potential revenue this government will be foregoing this year as a result of the ministerís decision announced on Monday.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Under the Quartz Mining Act, itís called an "assessment". It is a form of a levy paid to the government if the work is not done on the claim. The reason this government put that forward was it was good news to the mining industry out there. It is not a tax; itís an assessment, so itís a form of a fine if we get it. The amount of money would vary year to year, so itís good news to the mining industry.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hardy:   Mr. Speaker, he did actually answer my question. He went back to what is the definition of "assessment" or "levy". If he looks in the Oxford Dictionary, he will find that "assessment" actually means "tax".

This all has a familiar ring to it. At one time, we had the federal government paying prairie farmers not to grow wheat. Now we have the Yukon government saying, "Donít do any work on your mining claim and weíll give you a tax break. We wonít collect what you should be paying us." Does the minister seriously expect this decision to generate more mining activity in the Yukon this year, or is he prepared to hear miners say, "Thanks for the tax holiday ó see you next year"?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Again, Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite. Again, itís an assessment. I think itís a very positive move for the mining industry. Itís a 12-month window of opportunity for mining. Will it promote mining? Yes, it will, and we will see the benefits in 12 months.

Mr. Hardy:   Call it what you want. The minister goes on about what good news this is. This government is full of good news. Record-high sole-source contracts ó good news. Pay raises for senior political staff ó good news. Plum appointments for political cronies ó good news. But thereís no good news for the Dawson womenís shelter, no good news for apprentices, no good news for auxiliary workers, casual workers or people on term contracts. Thereís certainly no good news for the Outreach van or the Salvation Army, no bridge funding for those important services to people; the only bridge funding this government believes in has to do with the Yukon River.

The obvious generosity being shown by this minister to the mining industry through tax breaks brings into doubt the trajectory predicted by this Premier.

Could this minister also lobby for funding for the other groups, businesses and individuals also in need?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Again, I thank the member opposite. This side of the House, the government, is working to improve the lives of all Yukoners, and my job as Energy, Mines and Resources minister is to work with the mining and energy sections to improve that.

So, again, the assessment news is good news to the mining community.

Question re:  Government accountability

Mr. McRobb:   For more than a week now, Iíve been asking questions on behalf of electrical consumers to the minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation. I have asked about the governmentís promise to extend rate relief and eliminate the clawback, which would have put $40 in the pockets of the Yukonís electrical ratepayers each month.

Iíve asked about the failed attempt to charge every Yukon customer for the Mayo-Dawson transmission line through the inappropriate use of Rider F. Iíve asked the minister to refund customers the $15-million gouge from Rider J. Iíve asked the minister to order his corporation to straighten out this whole mess at a GRA hearing before the Yukon Utilities Board. Iíve even shown the minister the road map by citing sections of the Corporate Governance Act.

Why has he in each case refused to help customers? I would like to know: will the minister acknowledge that he is accountable to this Legislature for the actions of this corporation?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Thank you to the member opposite. We are responsible and, in the spirit of being an open and transparent government, we want full disclosure of all the facts regarding Yukon Energy Corporation.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, Iíll take that as a yes answer.

Now, itís very interesting: the Corporate Governance Act of the Yukon Territory sets out the fundamental principles for governance. It says that each government corporation and its officers and staff must be accountable through a minister to the Legislative Assembly ó thatís us, Mr. Speaker ó for what the government corporation does.

So letís be clear about this. The record now shows the minister has the necessary authorities and the responsibility. He can no longer point his finger at someone else.

My next question follows on the section cited yesterday that government corporations are institutions of government and established to achieve government objectives in the public interest. What about the inappropriate use of Rider F? Will the minister tell us why it was his governmentís objective to use Fuel Rider F to collect from the territoryís electrical customers for the Mayo-Dawson transmission line?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   As far as the Corporate Governance Act, he forgot one section: a government corporation, including a wholly owned subsidiary of a government corporation ó and that the definition of a wholly owned subsidiary in the act of specifically excluding Yukon Energy Corporation. So Yukon Energy Corporation is specifically taken out of that. That will correct his first statement.

The second one ó and the member of the opposition continues to raise serious allegations regarding Yukon Energy Corporation. Our government has firmly committed that all facts regarding this matter will be brought to this House in a timely manner.

Mr. McRobb:   The minister is evading his responsibility. If he checked the Yukon Development Corporation Act, it clearly says it is responsible for Yukon Energy, so the responsibility still lies under the purview of this minister.

This minister, in all his answers to date and all the questions of the past week or so, indicates heís hiding behind the board, heís abrogating his responsibility, heís certainly not consumer friendly, heís protecting the corporate empire. What happened to the can-do attitude that the electorate heard during the last campaign, Mr. Speaker, because the answers from this minister now are "canít do".

The minister is refusing to answer my questions in any substantial way and responsible way, and I see no point in carrying this matter any further, so I will pass on my final question.

Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed.

MOTION OF URGENT AND PRESSING NECESSITY

Mr. Hardy:   I ask leave to present a motion to adjourn the ordinary business.

Speaker:   Please proceed.

Mr. Hardy:   I move the following motion:

THAT the ordinary business of the Assembly be adjourned.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. leader of the official opposition

THAT the ordinary business of the Assembly be adjourned.

The member has five minutes to speak on this issue.

Mr. Hardy:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier today I provided a letter outlining my intention to seek leave to move that the ordinary business of the House be adjourned. I did this pursuant to Standing Order No. 16 and provided copies of the correspondence to the three House leaders.

As I explained in the letter, I believe it is a matter of urgent public importance that the House has the opportunity to deal with Bill No. 27 without any further delay. Bill No. 27 is entitled An Act to Repeal the Government Accountability Act. The reasons we need to deal with it is that we have a very awkward situation on our hands, contrary to what was said previously in Question Period.

With the Minister of Finance and other Cabinet ministers not being in compliance with the Government Accountability Act, it raises serious questions. Definitely, one of the points is respect for the law, and that is a question that should never have to be raised here, but when a situation like this occurs, that is what is perceived.

Because the deadlines, which were a part of the act, have passed for the ministers to comply with the Government Accountability Act, they are also implicated in this. Iíd like to read a couple of the sections of the accountability plan.

This is Bill No. 59: "3(1) The Minister of Finance must table annually a consolidated accountability plan with the main estimates tabled by the Government for the fiscal year.

"3(2) A consolidated accountability plan must be for a period that includes the fiscal year and at least the 2 subsequent fiscal years.

"3(3) A consolidated accountability plan must include

"(a) the vision, mission, values, and priorities of the Government;

"(b) the key strategies for achieving the priorities of the Government;

"(c) the targets set by the Government for each of the priorities; and

"(d) a comparison of the actual performance results to date with targets set in previous consolidated accountability plans, if any.

"(4)(1) the Minister of Finance must include a statement of responsibility with the consolidated accountability plan.

"(2) A statement of responsibility must include a statement to the effect that all of the Governmentís policy decisions that have material economic or fiscal implications have been considered in the preparation of the consolidated accountability plan."

Iíll just move through some of these points, Mr. Speaker, if you donít mind.

"5(1) A Minister must prepare annually an accountability plan for each department for which he or she is responsible for each fiscal year for inclusion in the main estimates tabled by the Government for the fiscal year in that year."

"6(1) A Minister must include a statement of responsibility with the departmentís accountability plan."

Under 7(2), it states: "If the Minister of Finance does not make a consolidated accountability plan or departmental accountability plan public at the time required under this Act, the Minister of Finance must make public a written statement that gives the reasons for the non-compliance."

"7(3) A statement under subsection (2) must be made public not more than 7 days after the date on which the consolidated accountability plan or departmental accountability plan should have been made public."

So for those reasons that are already outlined in the plan, to me that suggests that we do have a serious situation and it would raise the credibility of our laws that are now in question here.

As I said earlier in Question Period, Mr. Speaker, it raises a very strong concern, especially in the public eye. As many of us know, the scepticism with which politicians are viewed with nowadays ó the credibility of elected members.

Speaker:   The member has 30 seconds.

Mr. Hardy:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The credibility of the budget now is also in question. The way I look at it, in wrapping up, is that the best we can do at this time is to deal with Bill No. 27 as a matter of urgent public importance. We need to end the situation that finds the ministers not in compliance with the letter and the spirit of the law, move forward, and then it will be all settled.

Ms. Duncan:   I understand that I have five minutes as well to speak to this motion.

Mr. Speaker, there are four main points. The fact is that the government has broken the law. The leader of the official opposition has pointed this out. For example, in the former Bill No. 59, the Government Accountability Act, which is law and passed the House and was given assent by the Commissioner, calls upon the Minister of Finance to make public the accountability plans for departments. Included in those departmental accountability plans must be not only the vision, mission, values and primary responsibilities of the department but the goals and objectives for each of the departmentís primary responsibilities. How those goals will be met, the strategies and the cost for delivering each primary responsibility ó performance measures must also be tabled with that accountability plan.

The government has not done this. Earlier in Question Period, the Premier and Finance minister suggested that the new budget document does meet all of those tests. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it does not, and it does not meet the tests of the Government Accountability Act.

This situation could have been avoided, and most certainly in the honour and integrity with which we are elected to uphold the law, we should fulfill the law. It could have been avoided. The government has tabled a repeal of the Government Accountability Act. It could have and should have been dealt with prior to this situation occurring. It was not. There is no reason why it wasnít, other than the individual in charge must have too much to do that it was missed.

It is fundamentally disturbing to me and to all of us as members if anyone believes they are above the law. No one is above the law. Laws are passed and they are meant to be upheld, and they apply equally and fairly to all of us. It may be that individuals do not hold the vision of accountability in the same esteem. That is their prerogative; however, the law is the fact and the law must be lived up to.

I would like to add a few points with respect to the Government Accountability Act and why it was brought forward in the Legislature. In speaking of the law and of our requirements as legislators, we hold, as Canadians and legislators, the office of the Auditor General in very high esteem. It was the former Auditor General, Denis Desautels, who said in his final report to the Parliament of Canada that providing performance information that is balanced and candid is seen to carry too many risks. This can be true for both ministers and public servants. In short, we have a government culture where mediocre reporting is safe reporting. To break out of this, Parliament may need to legislate the provision of performance information by departments. We have to move toward a culture where there is virtue in reporting the way things are.

That was the reason for the introduction of and putting forward the Government Accountability Act. It is performance measures that are real to Yukoners, that can be seen, that are tabled in this Legislature, and a government indicates with its signature and by their tabling that they will live up to them.

The Government Accountability Act requires that this information be put forward in this House.

The government, in failing to live up to the Government Accountability Act, has broken the law. They have chosen, as a newly elected government, to repeal that law. That is their right and I look forward to its debate. The fact is, it should have come before this House, and it has not.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I urge that we pass this motion.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   What we have before us here today is a feeble attempt by the leader of the official opposition to delay the proceedings of this Assembly. I am disappointed that he would see fit to take this course of action.

We have before us a full agenda. How expeditiously this moves through the House is dependent on the debate originating from the official opposition and the third party. Weíve seen prolonged debate on subject matters that normally pass this House very quickly, such as interim supply bills. But at the end of the day, the accountability terms are virtually met, but in a different format than the Liberals wanted in that bill when it was brought before the House.

The accountability measures meet the test when you look at the statistical side of the equation and correlate that back to what is happening. People can make up their own minds as to what is going on and how it is being undertaken with the methods that our Yukon Party has used to address the issue of government accountability.

That said, Mr. Speaker, there have been no laws or rules broken. What is being attempted by the leader of the third party is to circumvent the Standing Orders of this Assembly with this motion. Because it clearly spells out that only governments have the ability to call government bills ó full stop. And that is what is being proposed by this motion.

The member oppositeís interpretation of Standing Order 16 is incorrect.

Speakerís ruling

Speaker:   Order please. I would now like to provide my ruling on the request made by the leader of the official opposition to debate a matter of urgent public importance under Standing Order 16.

The leader of the official opposition met the requirements of Standing Order 16(2) by delivering to the Speakerís office a written statement of the matter proposed to be discussed more than two hours prior to the opening of this sitting day.

Standing Order 16(5) requires the Speaker to rule on whether this request for leave to move adjournment of the ordinary business of the House is in order and of urgent public importance.

The leader of the official opposition, in his written statement, said, "I wish to advise you of my intention to seek leave to move that ordinary business be adjourned this afternoon to permit the House to debate a matter of urgent public importance, namely Bill No. 27, an Act to Repeal the Government Accountability Act."

This request for leave is not in order because Standing Order 16 cannot be used for the purpose of calling Bill No. 27 for debate, as the leader of the official opposition suggests in his letter. Standing Order 12(2) states that government business is to be called in such sequence as the government chooses. Standing Order 16 cannot be used to override the governmentís control of its own business under Standing Order 12.

Further, the leader of the official opposition has made statements that the Minister of Finance and other ministers are not complying with certain laws. It is stated at page 525 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice that, "A direct charge or accusation against a Member may only be made by way of a substantive motion for which notice is required."

The leader of the official opposition could be understood to be verging on, if not making, a charge in this matter. The procedure followed in Standing Order 16 does not lead to a substantive motion as the motion before the House under the standing order would be, "That the ordinary business of the Assembly be adjourned." Therefore, if the leader of the official opposition wishes to pursue a charge, it is not procedurally in order to do so under Standing Order 16; rather, he must give notice of a substantive motion outlining the charge and the action he proposes be taken.

I must, therefore, rule that the request for leave does not meet the requirements of Standing Order 16 and that the ordinary business of the Assembly should not be set aside at this time.

We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT PRIVATE MEMBERSí BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

Motion No. 12

Clerk:   Motion No. 12, standing in the name of Mr. Rouble.

Speaker:   It is moved by the Member for Southern Lakes

THAT this House recognizes that the government has

(1) committed to a Team Yukon approach in making First Nations full partners in the economic development of the territory; and

(2) made a priority of establishing government relationships with First Nations based on mutual respect, consultation and collaboration with the objectives of reducing barriers and providing more cost-effective services for all Yukon citizens; and

THAT this House urges the government to ensure this approach extends to all areas of governance, including the economy, education, health, justice, social and community services.

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, I have never been content to hear the words "them" and "us" when the word "we" would better serve the conversation.

Mr. Speaker, the Yukon has been divided by "them" and "us" for generations, and now is the time for us ó all people of the Yukon ó to work together.

We have been divided by the land claims negotiating table for 30 years and now, as agreements are being signed, we need to move on and work toward our common needs. We donít need to look for reasons to divide us, not when we are all working for the same purpose. We need to look for ways where we can work together.

I hope that we can get unanimous support from this House to send a message to all Yukoners that we are sincere in wanting this to happen. We are all in this together and, if we work together, we will do better. I am sure we are all interested in seeing our neighbours do better. I for one would like to see my neighbour earn a dollar. I would rather that my neighbour earn a dollar here than to have that dollar head down south. If my neighbour was to earn a dollar here, I am sure that he or she will spend it at another neighbourís place and it will go around and around in our community.

We need to build the wealth in the territory, but people of First Nation ancestry havenít always been able to build wealth, at least in the dollar-and-cents terms that we often measure it by. Prior to 1960, a person of First Nation ancestry who retained their status couldnít even own land. That is a fact that greatly disturbs me: a human being here in the land that we love who couldnít own land, couldnít own assets, couldnít run a business, couldnít generate revenue, couldnít build wealth. Those discriminatory laws of the time have since been changed. They simply werenít fair, and now we need to take steps to ensure that all people of First Nation ancestry are partners in the economic development of our territory.

But, Mr. Speaker, we can work together on so many more things than just the economy ó issues such as education, health, justice, social and community services. Mr. Speaker, we all have these same departments. When you look at the Yukon territorial government or whether you look a First Nation government, we all have the same departments. Weíre all working for many of the same purposes. It seems, though, that often we choose to argue the same side of the coin. It now has to change. We must all recognize that together we can do better.

Mr. Speaker, I urge members to agree to this motion and send a strong message that we want to work with other governments in the territory to make the territory better for all. Iím proud of the steps taken so far to establish relationships ó the many meetings, the joint efforts and the agreements. And we have more work to do. Weíll continue to do that work. There is time left in the mandate. I wasnít expecting to get it all accomplished in the first three months.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all members to support this approach and to show their support by supporting this motion.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this motion. Mr. Speaker, the intent of the approach in making First Nations full partners in the economic development of the territory and also a priority of establishing government relationships with First Nations based on mutual respect, consultation and collaboration with objectives of reducing barriers and providing more cost-effective services to all Yukoners is a nice statement.

The member opposite just brought to my attention what wealth means. To me, when I think about wealth, I donít think of wealth in terms of dollars. We have our basic needs covered where I come from in my community. I believe I speak on behalf of my constituents when I say that has been a value of ours for centuries. Our wealth is based on our culture, on our land and the way we take care of our environment and our animals, because that is the very basis of our lives. We have been fighting an issue internationally for over 20 years now, and the very survival of our people depends on decisions that are made in another country. They will impact and affect our people for the rest of our lives.

We in the official opposition support government-to-government relationships. When the NDP was in government, thatís when this started. I remember that very, very clearly because I remember the leader and the Cabinet ministers coming to our community to hold the very first ever Cabinet meeting in Old Crow, and I organized that event.

And it was so very important ó the impact and effect it had on me and the members of the community ó because here we are, in this isolated community in north Yukon, and we had the top leader in the Yukon Territory and the Cabinet ministers, who were the decision makers of the day, come to Old Crow. Not only did they meet among themselves, they also met with the leaders of Vuntut Gwitchin.

That, to me, Mr. Speaker, was a very clear message that the government of the day took the people of Old Crow very seriously. They took the issues that we were concerned about very seriously. Yes, they did consult with us and listened to our concerns. I consider that a very, very important part of being a government that listens and a government that is committed to being a partner with our people.

The last government that was in place paid us a lot of lip service, and I can see us heading in that direction again, with the decisions being made recently, where there is a lot of talk that is not being followed through with the commitments we heard.

This Yukon Party government, Mr. Speaker, campaigned on these very commitments of consulting with people, with all Yukon people; before making any major decisions, they promised to meet with all the stakeholders who were involved.

Mr. Speaker, there are many examples where this promise was broken. This promise made by this Yukon Party government was not followed through.

Some of the examples I have here surround the very important decision that was made in January of putting the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on hold and then, a couple of weeks after that, a memorandum of understanding was signed with a First Nation community, and that came as a surprise in an announcement with a press release from this government, and thatís how we all found out about it.

Most of the First Nation communities throughout the Yukon Territory were not consulted on this decision. That was done after the fact.

More alarming ó we have a regional Elders Council, and in our community of First Nation people in this territory, our elders are of the most respected. They help guide us, they help support us in our decision making as leaders, and they were not consulted. To me, that is very disrespectful.

This government said they would be open and accountable. We are heard throughout the Yukon on radios, we are heard and seen throughout the Yukon on our televisions. People are concerned. I hear from those people every day if there is an issue that comes about ó from them watching us on TV or listening to us on the radio. They listen very carefully to the questions that we ask of this Yukon Party government.

Some of the comments that I hear are: "You ask the questions but where are the answers?"

The tone that is used to answer our questions is an issue that was brought to my attention. I take these very seriously because we ask these questions on behalf of our constituents, on behalf of the Yukon people, to hold this Yukon government accountable for their decisions so that the Yukon people can have their questions addressed through us.

With that, I am very, very concerned. There are changes that have taken place in the past few months and some very, very serious changes and decisions and I am concerned with the way these were made, which affected the women in our territory and affected the men and children in our territory. We have many, many issues that need to be addressed, whether they be in Social Services, whether they be in Environment, whether we are talking about airports or roads in our communities, and especially the well-being of our families. We have to have those addressed, especially in our First Nation communities.

We have before us a motion that we want to be partners in addressing these issues. The reason I brought up the way that our questions were being answered and the tone that we are being answered in is, how are we going to be partners today if we are not willing to work together? What people perceive on the television is very important. That is why I get phone calls. They watch how people conduct themselves and they have every right to question that.

I donít question it, because, for me, I just do the best that I can, and I try to relay that to people who are concerned. There are many decisions that are going to have to be made by this Yukon Party government for however long their term is, and partnerships are very, very important, whether they are to settle the land claims of our First Nation communities that are outstanding or whether it has to address the memoranda of understanding that are outstanding right now or court issues that are coming forward. Those are very, very key. We live in a very unique time in a unique place in Canada. The decisions that are being made in this House affect each and every one of us ó not only today in this present time, they affect our children; they affect our grandchildren.

In our First Nation communities ó Iíve shared this before and Iím going to share it again ó our elders donít make decisions for us who are living here today; decisions are made for those who are not born yet. And, yes, we need strong partnerships with all levels of governments. We make commitments. We need to follow through with those.

And that, Mr. Speaker, is my closing. Thank you.

Mr. Arntzen:   I rise in this House today to speak to this motion, in support of the commitment to a Team Yukon approach. And, of course, when we speak of Team Yukon, we must partner with First Nations in forming government-to-government relationships. And that can only happen if we base this relationship on mutual respect. And of course, consulting and cooperation of all governments throughout the Yukon is the only way we can accomplish this. Mr. Speaker, the objective here is to reduce barriers and provide more cost-effective services to all Yukoners.

We often talk about thinking outside of the box. Well, this is a typical example of thinking outside of the box. By striving toward making Yukon First Nations full partners in the economic development of this territory, it can only benefit all Yukoners ó and also, Mr. Speaker, avoiding litigation ó and thereby create a more positive investment climate. And the climate has to be bright in order for investors to become encouraged to participate in economic development in the territory.

Mr. Speaker, to build a Team Yukon we must continue to work together with all First Nations collaboratively in order to determine together which kind of economic structure best meets our mutual interests. We have agreed to utilize an economic table with the Kaska government, which was previously established to develop an economic partnership. We also signed a renewed intergovernmental relations accord with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to determine our respective governments and work together to define priorities for northern Yukon.

Mr. Speaker, in February of this year we also signed a political accord with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government in the form of a memorandum of understanding for the corrections system, including the future replacement of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, with a process that is program driven rather than facility driven ó a very positive move.

Mr. Speaker, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation has also approached us to engage in a planning exercise that will provide them with economic opportunities within their traditional territory.

So, Mr. Speaker, we must ó and we want to ó engage all First Nations in dialogue and partnership to encourage and promote economic development activities within their traditional territories and to share in the benefits resulting from those activities.

Mr. Speaker, a Team Yukon approach to the economy will help provide the much-needed certainty that resource investors are seeking and give the Yukon an edge over other jurisdictions where there is no such collaboration. The objective for developing a governance regime is to provide the certainty that resource investments need to make positive decisions to invest in Yukonís resources, which we have many of. This can and will lead to jobs for all Yukoners, which we so desperately need to maintain our economy, or even rebuild our economy.

Mr. Speaker, I am in support of this motion, and I thank you.

Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Speaker, the motion before us makes some very good points. I definitely think that the resolve portion, encouraging the government to ensure that the approach extends to all areas of governance, including the economy, education, health, justice, social and community services, is a very good idea. I find the other part of the motion somewhat self-serving.

The use of the words "Team Yukon" to me is fairly self-serving. Using the approach is not something that I disagree with; I think that we do all have to work together. As my colleague stated, our performance in this House and how we are perceived in this House to be working together and the answers to the questions that we ask, to me, donít show that ó that we in here are getting the respect and the answers to the questions that our constituents are asking us to ask.

This government has been here for four months ó or five months, depending on how you look at it, whether or not you want to take it from the day they were elected. They like to tell us that there was a void of power for almost a month and that there was no direction or that somebody else was providing the direction. However, we know that there was somebody providing direction and that it was the members opposite who were providing that direction. Otherwise, a lot of the things that happened during the month of November last year wouldnít have taken place. For starters, the director of the alcohol and drug secretariat would have had a job for another month.

The motion talks about mutual respect, consultation, collaboration and, quite frankly, we havenít seen a lot of mutual respect or consultation.

Again, my colleague raised the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and how there was a memorandum of understanding between the government and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. There was no consultation with other First Nations before that memorandum of understanding was agreed to, and I donít find that very respectful. Thereís no mutual respect when you donít talk to all the players in the game. Thereís no mutual respect when a minister ignores representations that are made when he has actually asked for names of people to be appointed to a very important body in this territory, and when they ignore the fact that the process is flawed, that there is a better way of arriving at those names and giving people an opportunity to ensure that there is neutrality.

What a difference 10 years makes, too. Go back to October 1992 when First Nations were being made partners, given opportunities to build and participate in the economy.

What happened? The government ended up in court. The government of the day, in 1992 ó the Yukon Party government ó ended up in court because they cancelled ó they ripped up a contract. They had the opportunity then to make First Nations full partners in the economy.

I think the point was raised about intergovernmental agreements and working together. Those things are not new. The way that the motion is worded, the Member for Southern Lakes is suggesting that this government has taken a new approach. I honestly donít believe it is that new of an approach. I think itís new for the Yukon Party, but I donít think itís necessarily new for the Yukon. I think there are examples of partnerships and working together and agreements by previous governments on numerous matters.

I think and feel very strongly about the fact that we need to work together with First Nations. We need to work together with all people in the Yukon.

Iíll go back to something that has deeply affected me and made a big change in the way that I view how governments, how businesses, how organized labour and how each and every one of us as individuals should conduct ourselves. I know Iíve mentioned this before, but during my time at Yukon College, we had the opportunity to listen to what elders were saying. I go back to what respected elder Roddy Blackjack said about two cultures walking side by side. Thatís where we need to go; we need to do that, not just as governments, not just as businesses, not just as organizations and NGOs ó we need to do that as individuals as well. So while I agree with the "be it resolved" or "that this House urges" portions of this motion, I still have a lot of problems with the fact that it appears that the government is patting itself on the back for something it has yet to accomplish.

In that respect, I have a hard time supporting this. I think that the government needs to work harder and make more efforts to achieve what it thinks that it has already achieved. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, Iíll have a hard time supporting the motion.

However, we have more time to talk about this, and I hope that the members on the government side take my comments and take the comments of my colleague from Old Crow into consideration as we talk about this very important matter ó very important. I think this is of the utmost importance. I think that we need to move ahead.

An example of two cultures walking side by side that I like to hold up, of course, is Yukon College. I think that they have done a wonderful job of working with First Nations, identifying the needs, talking with elders, listening to what the educational, social and cultural needs of communities are. I think that there is a lot to be learned from the efforts that the College has put in on this front. I would encourage the members opposite to talk to people who have been involved with this work, talk to people in communities about how those consultation processes worked, how they were established, how respect was earned in developing those relationships.

Respect isnít something you can go down to the store and buy. You have to work for it.

I would just like to offer those comments in this debate, and I look forward to hearing what members on the opposite side have to say.

Thank you.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to say a few words to this very important motion before members today.

Itís truly unfortunate to hear the members opposite voice their blatant opposition to a motion such as this, because I, frankly, am having a hard time hearing what Iím hearing on the other side.

The motion basically calls for a Team Yukon approach in making Yukon First Nations full partners in the economic development of this territory. What a great initiative. What a great thing. Why the members opposite would actually voice opposition to this, Iím not so sure. Iím curious to see what the motives are behind some of these statements.

As I have mentioned on a number of occasions, upon being elected ó whenever it was, four or five short months ago ó we took the initiative to immediately strike a very good, constructive, sound working partnership with Yukon First Nations and all Yukoners, despite what the members opposite may believe.

The number one priority of this government was to get the economy back on track. To do so, contrary to the members opposite, is to engage the full partnership of all Yukoners and, of course, Yukon First Nations. To do so is going to benefit all of us.

With respect to the Kaska First Nation, in particular, I guess we could go along our merry way, and not do anything, and proceed as the previous two governments did, and we would find ourselves in a position, come April 1 ó yesterday, when devolution occurs ó and the Yukon government would offer a piece of land within their traditional territory to a third party interest and, wham, litigation and in the courts for years to come. Is that a responsible approach of a government? I donít think so.

In doing so, thatís exactly what weíve done. Weíve taken steps to avoid that. Instead of going head-to-head with Yukon First Nations, weíve actually made great strides in partnering with Yukon First Nations in avoiding litigation and lengthy court battles. Confrontation is not something our government wants to proceed with ó nothing like the previous government. I think Yukoners saw enough of that, and thatís part of the reason weíre here today.

I thank the member opposite, especially from Kluane ó thank you ó for his support. Perhaps heíd like to join us in the next election. Heíd have to run for the nomination first, of course, because we donít appoint our candidates, unlike the third party.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Team Yukon, thatís right.

As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, before I go on too much further with respect to politics here, whether itís justice, economic development, health services or education, I believe that we all have a very important role in advancing the territory together.

The Member for Southern Lakes made reference to Carcross-Tagish First Nation. Theyíve approached our government to engage in a planning exercise that would make them full partners in economic development opportunities. Itís very honourable and we are very sincere in recognizing those relationships.

Just yesterday there was an article in the Whitehorse Star, and it was with respect to True North Gems and how they have recently struck a partnership with Ross River Dena Council. They signed a memorandum of understanding that commits the company to maximize employment opportunities for members of the Kaska First Nation. Itís a great opportunity, a great initiative. In fact, the Chief of the Dena Council applauded this. In fact, he says, the Kaska are open for business. The Kaska will support mining as long as they have an opportunity for meaningful participation.

Thatís something that this motion speaks to ó meaningful participation and taking full responsibility and sharing in the burden of that participation benefiting from economic development opportunities in the territory.

Similar to the government of the Northwest Territories, they certainly have been able to collaborate with First Nations, theyíve been able to work together very diligently in recognizing the potential we all have to offer and have made great strides in progressing with the development of the territory.

That is something that we would like to do because we do have a high unemployment rate. We are having a hard time keeping individuals in the territory, for lack of work. I donít think that government should be the sole employer in the territory. I think itís one of them, and it plays a very important role, as the federal government does, but I think itís the private sector, and I think itís up to the government to provide the climate that is conducive to the growth of the private sector. That is certainly what we were working toward.

Just yesterday, in a separate news item in the morning news, there was a member of the mining industry and he was speaking to how many of our First Nations have concluded their land claim agreements and are self-governing First Nations ó and how they are now looking at potential economic development opportunities.

I think weíve all seen some pretty tough years over the last five or six years here in the territory. Even he is admitting that it is looking better this year. There seems to be a sense of optimism in the air.

I donít know whom the members opposite have been talking to, but certainly on the street, I have been approached by various people who are optimistic about this new approach ó working together for the betterment of our territory, working with Yukon First Nations, working with industry, keeping the door open.

I happen to think weíre making progress. We have a long way to go and I have to give credit where credit is due. Work did proceed under the previous two governments as well. I think weíre furthering that. Weíre actually advancing progress in the territory.

Say what you will, when the previous Yukon Party government was in office between 1992 and 1996, the economy did get going. The economy was at an all-time high. There was the lowest unemployment rate in the territory at that time. We had people migrating into the territory instead of exiting the territory as we have seen over the last five years.

We talk about justice initiatives and we talk about government-to-government relationships. I have to say that we are taking a different turn in the delivery of corrections in the territory. We happen to think that itís a new way and we think thereís a lot of opportunity there, of course, because the way things have been delivered in the last few years simply hasnít been working. We have a very high rate of recidivism; we have a very high percentage of clients in Whitehorse Correctional Centre being of First Nation ancestry. Weíd like to work toward turning that around.

Weíd like to engage the full discussion and full partnership with Yukon First Nations in the delivery of corrections in the territory. It only makes sense.

As Iíve said on a number of occasions ó and the Premier has, as well ó simply building a facility to house inmate clients without looking at the fundamental demographics and social behaviours that create the environment would simply be irresponsible, and that is why we have made the full commitment to engage all Yukon First Nations in discussing the future of community justice initiatives. In doing so, that will temper the scope of the project that will be going up.

Surely members opposite canít take issue with that.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Iím glad. The Member for Kluane seems to be concurring with me a lot. Thereís always a seat available ó we can certainly build another one, as we had to earlier, because there were not enough seats over here to accommodate a majority.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Deputy Speaker:   Order please.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Thank you.

Thatís because weíre open, weíre accountable, and we are open to all parties. The member opposite finds that funny. I donít think itís funny.

Getting back to Justice, as I said, weíre going to be working with all Yukon First Nations in reviewing the development of correctional programs, program delivery options in the territory and the implementation of programming services with First Nations.

We find thatís very critical. Itís a responsible approach in examining other ways of delivering services in the Yukon, in our communities. We want to reverse the trend of individuals simply going to jail. And Justice certainly takes a very active role in delivering community justice projects involving the self-governing First Nations, striking agreements with community justice committees, for example. We contract with the Council of Yukon First Nations at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

In crime prevention, we support a number of projects through youth leadership in Watson Lake, Kwanlin Dun, Carcross, Haines Junction, Old Crow, Teslin, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks, to name but a few. The First Nations in these communities are very involved in the program.

There are a number of initiatives. I believe last fall the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation was able to host an extensive health and fitness program for young people. The Northern Tutchone Council was able to participate in workshops aimed at bullying, harassment prevention, awareness on dating, and relationship violence. Also through the crime prevention victim services fund, the Kluane First Nation was able to develop a crime prevention plan for their community and explore the possibility of initiating Neighbourhood Watch and Block Parent programs in their community; the Kwanlin Dun First Nation for an alternative pathways, after-hours program; the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre to host a variety of cultural, recreational and educational opportunities for youth; and the Ross River School Council to deliver a cultural program to all schoolchildren in Ross River.

These are just a few of the initiatives that our department is able to deliver in partnership with First Nations in helping to reduce the level of crime in the territory.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Iím not finished, but I will sum it up here.

Again, I thank all members here today for the opportunity to say a few words toward this very important motion. I urge all members opposite to reconsider their position on this motion. I would be very happy certainly to take excerpts of this motion and mail it out to all the Yukon First Nations so that they can see for themselves who actually supports the full partnership and full participation of Yukon First Nations in the territory, and theyíll be very surprised to see the results.

But I will give members opposite another opportunity here to change their position, and I thank you again and look forward to hearing the members opposite. Thank you.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Iíd like to talk to this very important motion.

A lifetime Yukoner like myself ó in the last 50 years, I was raised in most parts of the Yukon and, after I got out of school, I went into my apprenticeship and worked in the carpentry trade and then went into business. I was lucky enough to not only live in a lot of the communities but to do business in a lot of the communities, so I do have a bit of background on most of the communities in the Yukon and the progress that has been shown over the last 50 years, some of the speakers have pointed out, like from Southern Lakes, and how the First Nations werenít involved in anything, on owning land. They couldnít go to a public school; they couldnít vote. They couldnít vote until 1960. There were issues like that that were brought up, but I guess we can point fingers and we can do all the things that we do, but that was a growing part of our society. We accepted that that was the wrong way to go. What we did as a society was address the issues of First Nations, which was very important. How we did it was a different thing, but I think that, in my travels through the Yukon and in the last 30 years that Iíve been in business ó and Iíve been in business from Arctic Red River to Watson Lake to Mayo, all those communities that I had interests in ó Iíve certainly seen a whole generation emerge from the communities that is positive, full of confidence, ready to go to work, bright and well-educated. They havenít forgotten their traditional backgrounds, which is very positive. They mix it nicely with the day and age that weíre in today.

Like the member from Old Crow was saying, when you think of a group of people from northern Yukon going down to Washington, D.C., and pounding doors and raising their concerns in the Senate ó the most powerful House in the world ó and they have the President of the United States leaning against them, and they win, what a compliment to that group of people.

What an education it must be for that group of people to have to go door to door and explain their case and win ó not by 30 votes, they win by two, three, four votes, but that is enough; they are on the radar screen. A little group of people in northern Yukon, northern Alaska and the western part of the Northwest Territories ó very much of a compliment. Thatís how that group of people have grown over the last 50 years. Thatís a plus.

When I was asked to run for politics ó and I thought about it, because I was sort of semi-retired ó I was asked by the Premier, Mr. Fentie, and he talked about his ó I canít say that?

Speaker:   Order please. Please do not name individuals.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Okay. He told me what the platform was about and what his aims were and what the party was going to do with government-to-government relations and everything, and I thought, what a positive, refreshing thing.

Then, to win and be on this side of the House as a novice, I saw the Premier take us from talking about it to actually doing it. Itís amazing. Itís amazing that weíre actually going out and doing what we said we were going to do.

Now, the argument on words is one thing, like Team Yukon ó see, thatís what weíve been doing for the last 30 years: weíve been debating it. Nobody has left the House to actually go and do it.

The list of things that we have done as a government, Mr. Speaker ó as a government in six months ó thereís the Kwanlin Dun participation with the jail. Thatís an obligation that we signed into a land claim. They have to be involved with any project over $3 million. Now, I understand that the argument is that the land claim isnít finalized, but that doesnít mean that we canít, in good spirit of it, have them participate in building the jail.

Guess what? Weíll get the jail built; theyíll have input into the jail, theyíll be part of it and part of the community. How could you argue against them participating and having other First Nations participate in that kind of a situation? I find that hard to argue.

Another thing is, you know, weíve gone from ó you know, the first month in office, we went and finalized the Fishing Branch park. Three governments have been talking about that for ó again, all we do is talk about things. We actually left the House and went up and answered the concerns of the people who were involved with the Fishing Branch. That has been an issue for the Old Crow people for the last 20 years, and weíre finalizing that ó government to government, weíre finalizing it.

In my travels as Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, I have the great pleasure of going to Fort McPherson and Inuvik and talking to those groups, and working with Old Crow, Mayo and Dawson on that economic table. We have to see how we can get northern Yukon to work government to government. I meet young people who are eager to sit around the table, eager to discuss their future and eager to be part of the solution. How can you vote against that? I think that we as a government, in six months, have done a markup job in taking what we say and actually doing it.

Weíre working with the Kaska First Nation to try to alleviate some of the problems theyíre having so they donít have to go into a big court case with the federal government. That would not be positive for anybody in the Yukon. So we are working positively in a fashion that makes it easier for the Yukon to go to work in southeast Yukon, where our oil and gas is and where our timber is. Is there an argument about sharing that wealth with the Kaska First Nation? No. Itís on their traditional lands.

When I go to Old Crow and say, "Do you realize, out of the Kaska traditional land, you get $6,000 a month from the gas revenues ó thatís your share ó and youíve been getting that for 10 years." Thatís pretty good.

Thatís a very productive financial benefit to all Yukoners. All First Nations participate in it; they all get a cheque every year. It comes from Kaska traditional land, and the Kaska First Nation is not benefiting from that.

So letís get together; letís go to work and letís make the Yukon work. Wouldnít it be nice for the Old Crow people if there were 50 wells in southeast Yukon? Thatís quite possible, but it isnít possible unless we go to work. What I see around my dining room table with the next generation of Yukoners is a bunch of kids who are proactive, ready to go to work, whether theyíre First Nations, Oriental or whomever, theyíre all Canadians and we live in a great, great country and we can benefit from having them go to work.

The placer authorization was a crisis; it was going to put the Yukon placer industry out of work. Who came to bat for us? We came to bat, because weíre the Yukon government, but guess who came to bat? The First Nations came over and said that that was wrong; what they did was wrong. Whether we liked the decision or not, the process was wrong and they came to bat for us. And guess what? Things are going along. Weíre going to be placer mining next year. But without the First Nations on side, Iím not quite sure it would have worked, Mr. Speaker, and thatís a lesson for everybody.

As far as divide and rule, which we have been doing for years ó in other words, having all these 30 years of discussions and saying that weíre going to work together as a unit and all this but nobody goes out to work with the First Nations or recognizes them. I think that we, as a government, in six months ó in six months, guys ó 180 days ó we have been involved with most First Nations in the Yukon. The doors are open; theyíre ready to do business. The ones who havenít signed their land claims, weíre working with them to try to help them through whatever issues are there. The Kaskas are coming back and forth. It looks positive. There are no guarantees in life, but I think this MOU puts us on notice; it puts all of us on notice ó this side and that side ó that we have to be conscious not only to say things but to do things.

This is a motion that speaks to that. It speaks about working government to government, education, health, justice and community services and the economic situation of these communities. Everybody in our whole community should worry about those points.

"Team Yukon" is in there, meaning letís get the Yukon together; letís work as a unit. We have something to offer the communities. We have something to offer each other, and I think itís a positive move. I say to the members across the floor, "Give us a year." Even an apple tree doesnít produce an apple until a year passes. Give us a year. This government, under the leadership of our Premier, has done some big things with First Nations. Weíre no longer talking about it or arguing about the issues. The issues have been argued to death. We are going to go to work in a solid fashion to make this relationship work government to government. I think it will work. Weíre 50 percent of the way there. All we have to do is maintain where weíre going and understand that we have to work government to government. And donít forget, at any level of that, that weíre working government to government.

The Premier and the caucus there, under the leadership of the Premier, has been very positive and very, very conscious of how to approach these things ó is it a government to government relationship? Then we donít send a bureaucrat; we send a government person. We are going to treat them as a government, and weíre not going to talk about it; weíre just going to go ahead and do it.

We have the oil and gas situations in the Yukon that are positive; we have forestry that is positive. We have an economy that is not good, but with this Team Yukon concept, where we get all of the Yukoners together, we fight things like this placer decision up in Dawson so that the placer industry can go back to work. We work with the Kaska First Nation so we can have logging and oil and gas in southeast Yukon. We work with the First Nation in Fort McPherson so that they feel comfortable that if we were to expand our gas reserves in northern Yukon, they would work with us to get access to the pipeline on the Mackenzie.

Our Premier now is working hard to get an aboriginal pipeline group together so that when the pipeline comes down the Alaska Highway, weíll have a group of people together, and their concerns will be answered.

Now, do we live in a perfect world? No, but I think that we have done some pretty dynamic things in the last 180 days. We have stopped the tendency to sit in this House offering lip service and doing nothing. Weíre done that.

Weíre going to go out to the communities, talk to the First Nations, see where theyíre coming from, see how we can be part of it, and if we can help a situation, weíre there to help. I think itís going to bear fruit. And I think that in 12 months ó this time next year, if weíre lucky to be here ó I think weíll look around the room and say, "Job well done."

I think we should back this motion because this motion is a positive motion. It speaks to the facts and puts on the books that this is the direction of our government. Itís hard to vote against this. It will be interesting to see the vote.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   It is indeed an interesting motion. Itís interesting to see peopleís approach to it.

I have a variety of things Iíd like to very much talk about today. When youíre first exposed to a formal debate, and I have to admit I was never in a position ó our debate was usually over a glass of beer and a little more animated. But I have to admit that a lot of points come out on all sides. But there are some I would like to comment on because they do sort of bother me ó and in no particular order, Mr. Speaker.

One member opposite referred to the phrase "Team Yukon" as being self-serving. We live in Yukon. Team Yukon is all of us. It is not simply one side or one political party. It is not simply one or two, but many, cultures.

I had the great privilege of working with a fellow for 13 years, whom I will get back to later, but one of the things he drilled into me for years and years and years was that he was not Portuguese. If you called him a Portuguese Canadian he would get very upset. He was a Canadian of Portuguese descent, and he was very, very clear on that from the day I met him.

We have to look at what weíre accomplishing with all of the things we do. I got into politics, at least this end of politics, in quite a different way from the way in which the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources did. I went to the leader instead of him coming to me. I told him my feelings, my philosophy and how I would act and react and, assuming that that was the end of the job interview, very quickly I found myself quite surprised to be encouraged to continue and to be honoured with a portfolio.

We all have different philosophies. We all have differences of opinion. There are not simply three opinions in this House; there are 18 opinions. We do not represent a single entity, although in reality we of course do. We represent the Yukon, but we also represent our constituencies, our communities, and the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin drives that home to us at every opportunity, and I do thank her for that.

I represent Porter Creek North, a somewhat urban community, in some ways diverse, in some ways very uniform, but opinions within that constituency are very different. There are at least 1,000 different opinions in there, and they are different, Mr. Speaker.

One of the approaches we took with the idea of working together with First Nations was the ability to work "outside the box". One of the things, Mr. Speaker: in politics you never want to give the opposition knowledge of your weakness, but I will give them one of my weaknesses, and that is that I am continually confusing which First Nations have signed a final agreement, which ones are close, which ones are a little further away ó because, frankly, Mr. Speaker, I donít care. I think we should deal with all of them on an equal basis, on a government-to-government basis. Yes, there are legalities in terms of who signed and who didnít. That has to be worked out. It will be worked out in the future and hopefully very soon will also become not the least bit relevant.

But really, at the end of the day, we have to approach everyone the same way. When we look at a correctional centre that is firmly in the centre of the Kwanlin Dun traditional territory and something that, while not formally signed, is very important to that First Nation, and one of the things that we had already agreed on was the fact that, above a certain amount ó I believe it is $3 million ówe had to consult with that First Nation.

So now we are left in a rather interesting position. Do we not do that and take the heat for it? Or do we do it and take the heat for that?

We are and were required to do that consultation. That does not mean that Kwanlin Dun will build that alone. It simply means that we have to consult with them. We have to bring them on-board as a government and make the assumption, which I think is a very valid assumption and will turn out to be a very true assumption, that they will then bring all other First Nations on-board, and we are already seeing this. Itís a joint agreement; it is not one-sided in either direction.

Again, whichever direction we decided to go, we would probably take heat from the other side. We have to be seen to be making substantive process. We have to be going somewhere. I think the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources is right: we have spent a huge amount of time talking about these things.

I came to the Yukon almost 15 years ago and, first and foremost ó the very night I arrived ó was the discussion of land claims and land selection by the First Nations.

Nobody really knew how it was going to work, but they knew it was going to have an impact. And here we are 15 years later, and weíre just getting the first copies of the maps. For Godís sake ó 15 years. And thatís only from that point. Weíre really talking 30 years out of all of this. Itís about time we made some progress. Itís about time we actually do something and get on with it, and I think giving an example of the former Government Leader Piers McDonald taking a trip to Old Crow is a very valid point. It shows an interest. It shows respect. But I submit, Mr. Speaker, that it accomplished absolutely nothing. It wasnít followed through on.

One of the lessons that I learned when I worked doing public relations work in Wichita, Kansas ó a very unusual community, to say the least ó when I first arrived there, we were placed in the community, and most of our group was doing volunteer work with a group called Volunteers in Service to America, also known as the Domestic Peace Corps. We were placed in a variety of different situations, and my job really was to fundraise. My job was to generate the economics and the physical plant for all of these projects to occur. As we were setting up one of our newest members, the space that had been rented for him had a basement filled with cases of empty beer bottles.

Outside of Faro, when Faro started to close this last time Ė I believe it was an 18-wheeler filled with bottles that came down. Iíve never seen so many beer bottles in one place.

So we did what we thought was the reasonable thing, and that was to collect all of these. We borrowed a van, we made runs with all of these empties to a liquor store, we returned the bottles ó which was where you returned them at that point. And we donated all the money to charity. We thought this was very magnanimous. I was called in to my supervisorís office the next morning, and I was dressed down by the best ó absolutely by the best. His point was that it wasnít necessarily what we did, itís that people in that community, in the small neighbourhood, as we moved in, saw us carrying out huge numbers of beer bottles. And the line my supervisor used has stayed with me to this day, Mr. Speaker. If people think youíre a drunk, then drink up, because whether you are or not is completely immaterial. We have to be seen to be accomplishing something.

We have to do something. We canít just let people think something and think the right thing or the wrong thing. We have to actually do it, and thatís always been a real problem with me on that.

One of the members opposite, in the debate, was upset over the respect given to the opposition in answers. I have a concern about that in the other direction, Mr. Speaker. When there is no respect in the question, then I donít know how anyone can realistically expect respect in the answer.

Another member during debate the other day said there were no substantive answers. I see few substantive questions. When a question is prefaced by a 45-second attack, Iím not really sure why anyone would expect anything substantive for an answer. And that denigrates the debate rather badly. Again, itís something I think the House could rise above. I find myself falling into it, and probably will again.

I donít think that recent rulings by the Chair have made it less colourful. I think itís made it certainly more creative, having to find ways to express yourself without actually saying it.

But I think back ó as a good example, I think most of the people I know are pretty simple folk, rather than getting into the flowery language and eloquence. As Saturday Night Live fans remember, with Jane Curtin and Dan Akroyd, where every question started out with, "Jane, you ó", and you can finish it. Exactly. I see a hand up at the Speakerís chair. Youíre right. But you know what I mean. Why would you expect a good answer after that? Letís be reasonable.

One of the things ó I see the leader of the loyal fourth party sitting up in the press gallery smiling.

One of the things that also bothers me is a lack of understanding on how the process works.

Weíve been criticized as not being realistic ó Iíll search for a word, Mr. Speaker. During the month of November, we were accused that, you know, "You say you werenít in control of the government, but you were." I would remind the member making that comment that, by Yukon law, the existing Cabinet retains its power and position until the date of swearing in. That is law; it is not our choice. In fact, until a few days previous, we were barred from the upstairs offices. We were barred from talking to officials to get the actual individual things, so I am assuming that that simply indicates a misunderstanding of what reality is.

Another thing that sort of bothers me in this whole debate ó and itís sort of my personal perspective on this ó is that there was reference to a document ó a very good document, I might add, but one that I do have to take issue with, that is a document called Two Cultures Walking Side By Side. I have to ask the House, I have to ask the member, I have to ask the author ó I just have to ask anybody I can get my hands on: what two cultures? If we only have two cultures in the Yukon, then I really do want to know which two they are talking about.

There is a very vibrant European community. There is a very vibrant French community, that I am sure is rather upset to be forgotten, but they are, in fact, a very distinct culture.

I had a discussion with the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin weeks ago on a matter involving a concern that I had with a First Nation issue. I went to her, not because of her ethnic background or culture; I went to her because sheís my critic ó to be real honest, I didnít want to get shot at across the House on an issue that we could come to a resolution on. I remember at the time that I made a comment that it is sort of like going to the French to see what the Germans think.

We tend to think of First Nations as a culture. All the First Nation people I know ó and itís a lot of people ó they do look at that in a commonality, but they look at it very much as a falsehood because they are very distinct cultures.

That was driven home when the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and I had a chance to visit Old Crow and Inuvik on the same couple of days. There are many common goals and many common things between the groups, and many differences between the groups. They are very closely related; they are not totally the same.

Years ago, without getting into a lot of detail, Mr. Speaker, I was married to a First Nation lady ó certainly not a Yukoner, certainly not Canadian, but somehow I think her First Nation would, while seeing some commonality, certainly see some major differences.

I remember having a chat with a good friend of mine from the Carcross-Tagish First Nation about traditional food, and I offered him some alligator, which is a traditional food of the Seminole Nation, and he didnít want any of that stuff; he only wanted good First Nation food. I accused him of being prejudiced, Mr. Speaker. You know, which First Nation are you going to go after here? With great reluctance, he tried the alligator and had to admit that it wasnít bad. So that was kind of an education in both directions.

We have to get along. We have to be able to work together. We have to do all these things together.

The Member for Vuntut Gwitchin talks about her community and where she was born and raised. I have to admit that the community I was born and raised in was about 60,000 people ó not a military town, but a military contract town. They didnít build guns, but they built the electronics to fire the guns and to guide the missiles. It was an extremely white town ó much too white ó and Iím not really sure how I developed some of my attitudes toward life coming from there, because I always sort of looked back and thought, gee, it would be nice to have a culture, not recognizing, of course, that I did. I had every bit as much culture as anyone else. Mine involved probably hot dogs and baseball caps, but itís still a culture, nonetheless.

Maybe thatís the way a lot of people look at it.

I had the good fortune to go to a private high school where students came from all over the world, and we had a reasonable contingent of Spanish-speaking students from South America. Quite an interesting exposure, my first exposure to a completely different culture, and while I never learned any Spanish it was always fun to get them talking and see what was there and learn Spanish food and learn the humour of one of the kids making a comment about his date in Spanish and then, much to his horror, finding out that she spoke Spanish, which was an interesting revelation.

I went from there to Wichita, Kansas, as I mentioned, and Wichita is a very strange city. It is laid out not in streets or roads or anything else. If you live on North Kansas, you live on North Kansas. It is not a street or anything else. And the grid is done by numbers. So my address was 1234 North Kansas, and if anyone knows anything about Wichita, there isnít a white face for five miles in any direction. And you sort of have fun with that. I remember taking a course in Braille transcription, mostly with older women, and we got along famously until one night they asked about our addresses and I gave my address. Everyone moved away from me, sort of like Arlo Guthrieís thing: everybody moved away on the Group W bench.

I couldnít understand it. It was a neat neighbourhood. I kind of enjoyed it actually. I learned all sorts about new foods and still always complain in the stores in town that they donít carry collard greens enough and this sort of thing. It was an amazing community.

But you learned very quickly that people had sensitivities toward these things. They had sensitivities toward what they were called, and Iím long enough in the tooth I suppose, Mr. Speaker, as a couple of us are ó not many in our party, I have to admit, but some of us fit the old part of that phrase that you have banned.

Speaker:   Order please. Two minutes.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Thank you. And you learn that it depends on what phrase you use. But the phrases shouldnít matter. They shouldnít have anything to do with it, but you learn that, to help the sensitivities, you sort of roll with the punches and everything else.

I go back to this friend of mine I worked with for years who was fluent in five languages and could tell a good joke in over 30. The day he told a joke in Cree absolutely floored me. I donít have the slightest idea where he picked that up, but he did.

Itís not the melting pot that our neighbours to the south like to refer to; itís a mosaic, and thatís my vision of what we have in the Yukon ó a mosaic of many cultures, not two, and that all of us can work together toward a common goal.

My background, I suppose ó I have to admit that I donít refer to myself as an American. I refer to myself as a Canadian of American descent and a Yukoner of American descent.

I support this motion 110 percent. We have to work together, and we have to stress that we will work together in all areas, not just the many that weíve done so far but all of them. I find that difficult not to support.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   It gives me great pleasure to get up and support this motion. I believe that it has been very important for us to develop our relationship with our First Nations, with all First Nations in the Yukon. Developing a direct government-to-government relationship has been achieved in our short period of time in office. We have been able to garner a few MOUs to help out with dealing with economic issues with certain First Nations, and we have many other First Nations expressing an interest to do the same. We feel itís important to develop this relationship so that we can get together on all issues relating to the Yukon, whether they are economic, resource related and/or in education or health.

We tended to have a difficult time in the past dealing with First Nation issues. Many of my colleagues and members opposite have indicated the issue of providing lip service to First Nations in the past. I think that, in general, we can state that that is something that is national, not just something related to the Yukon. I think thatís something that is important to be taken into consideration.

However, I do reiterate that we have, in our short period of time since being in office, been able to at least show that we are heading down the road that we said we would during the campaign.

We have just got started, as the Minister for Energy, Mines and Resources indicated, and we are at least heading in the right direction. I believe itís a start in the right direction and a hard foot to play with.

It is important that we develop this government-to-government relationship in order to stay on course, stabilize our economy and develop it in all aspects for them and our First Nations partners to enjoy the benefits of that development.

Again, that includes jobs as well as revenues that we obtain from resources ó oil and gas, forestry, mining, et cetera.

From the departmentís point of view, in Highways and Public Works, we have and will continue to work collaboratively with our First Nation peoples and governments because we believe strongly in the need to reduce the barriers and establish an excellent relationship with our First Nations.

We see working together as cost-effective, producing commonsense solutions and making government systems and services work for all Yukon peoples. For the first time, the Yukon government and First Nations are collaborating on costs for instructors, training facilities and participants for forest fire fighting training courses to get ready for the upcoming fire season.

The protective services branch is currently collaborating with the Selkirk First Nation and a private training contractor on a fire crew training program initiative for both Yukon fire management and First Nation fire crews. This team approach ensures that the Yukon government and our First Nation contractors have the required standard and training necessary to undertake the important task of protecting our communities against wildfires. The training will take place in early May at Minto Landing. We have approximately 30 seats planned for the Selkirk First Nation. Anything that isnít filled up by them will be taken up by other First Nations.

Service Yukon branch has a mandate to improve access to government services through all service and delivery channels, including e-government. We are looking forward to working together with Yukon First Nations and other governments and rural communities to determine the best way to provide access to government services in the rural communities.

As a start, Service Yukon last year contracted with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to provide limited motor vehicle services in the community of Old Crow for the First Nation office.

The governance and local administration branch works to encourage, strengthen and enable the support of local governments in the Yukon to establish and nurture partnerships with First Nation governments.

For instance, the Dena Naye Council and the residents of Ross River are working with us together toward a variation of traditional forms of local governance so that community of Ross River can deliver some municipal-type services. Iím pleased to advise all members of this House that my department is continuing to support and foster development in the community of Ross River. Through the Ross River round table and in conversations with the Ross River Dena Council, work is underway to assist Ross River in the development of a community plan and deliberations on local governance possibilities for that community.

In the area of sport and recreation, the Yukon government is providing funding to the Yukon aboriginal sport development strategy and the aboriginal sport development office. This office is working in partnership with the aboriginal sport stakeholders, including Council of Yukon First Nations, to improve the sport and recreation participation and opportunities for all First Nation peoples. The Yukon government funds First Nation sporting events, such as the North American Indigenous Games. We are partnering with the funding of other territorial governments to address the barriers and issues that are evident in the delivery of sport and recreation throughout the north.

Community Services has numerous municipal-type service projects underway or in the planning process, developing country residential and industrial subdivisions in Mayo, renovations to the Ross River Community Centre, and building sewage lagoons in Carcross and Burwash Landing. On request, we provide advice to First Nation communities on municipal infrastructure and land development. Iím committed, and I know Community Services is committed, to finding practical solutions to projects and situations so that all First Nations in the territory work with us as full partners toward a better future for the Yukon as a whole.

I would like to reiterate the comments of my colleagues that it is important that we support this motion to go forth. I believe we have a very good motion here in front of us. As also mentioned earlier, in the short time that we have been here, I think we are showing that we are going in the right direction, we are getting there and we are putting our money where our mouth is.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   I am very pleased to rise in support of this motion. This is a very good motion. It spells out the Team Yukon approach in making First Nation members here in the Yukon full partners in the economic development of our vast Yukon Territory.

If you look specifically at resource development, there is a tremendous amount of investment that it requires, and it is no longer possible to start these projects and undertake them without the full involvement of our First Nation members here in the Yukon. It is traditional land, by and large, and they are, like all of us, impacted by resource development projects. Itís interesting to note that, over this vast territory, many of the initiatives in the past have begun and the First Nation members in our society have just stood by ó stood by and watched and, to a large degree, have been tremendously impacted by some of these developments and some of these initiatives with the coming into place of land claims across the Yukon.

There are many that have been concluded and are in the implementation stages. There are also many that have yet to be resolved, Mr. Speaker, but at the end of the period of time, in order for Yukon to move forward, the First Nation members of our community must be, should be and will be ó under our Yukon Party government ó part of the process, sharing in the benefits and an equal partner on a government-to-government basis in all the initiatives weíre involved in.

Mr. Speaker, we only have to look at some of the initial thrusts that our government made. Our Premier spent some time speaking in Calgary at a conference on oil and gas and only just recently returned from a second conference on business development opportunities for aboriginal populations across Canada, and he returned from Saskatoon after speaking there. Our whole thrust as a government is to involve the First Nation members of our community in these initiatives.

Separate, aside and distinct from that, Mr. Speaker, we have to partner with our First Nations on many of the delivery programs that First Nations now have the ability to draw down under their final agreements. Weíre into the implementation stages on many First Nation final agreements and, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker, it is going to take a tremendous effort on the part of all of us to ensure the success of these undertakings.

Thereís never, ever going to be enough money for a lot of these initiatives. That is why itís so important that the First Nation members of our tremendous territory from here forward be a part of the economic development process. We all have to march forward in step, and thatís the only way we are going to be successful. After all, under the previous NDP administration and the subsequent Liberal administration, the whole industry base here in the Yukon was basically shipped south. We had the "U-Haul economy" under the NDP and subsequent governments.

Itís pretty interesting to note the resentment coming from the opposition benches regarding their dismal track record of instilling confidence in the investment community to return to the Yukon. In fact, it was all chased away by previous governments. Thatís why itís so important for us to be involved in a government-to-government relationship with our First Nation members here in the Yukon and proceed. Only in that manner, when everyone recognizes that itís a win-win situation, will we be successful in attracting the investment community back to the Yukon.

Itís very straightforward. Itís a very simple process. And itís one of the areas our government is committed to addressing, and we want to see results.

When we look across the Yukon at what our potential is, we have tremendous potential in so many areas, if you look solely at the resource extraction.

If you look at the forestry, if you look at the mining, if you look at the oil and gas ó these are just in the resource extraction area. One of the major attractions that we are failing to capitalize on is our potential as a visitor destination. There are two areas that the population around the world wants to come and look at and visit the Yukon for. The one is rather apparent: the pristine wilderness containing our wildlife. The second one is our First Nation culture that exists here in the Yukon. That is an area that we can work on, we can develop and we can realize tremendous economic benefits for all Yukoners.

I am very proud that our Yukon government has addressed this issue as one of our top priorities ó that of establishing government-to-government relationships with our First Nation governments, based on mutual respect, consultation and a collaboration with the objectives of reducing barriers and providing more cost-effective services for all Yukon citizens.

This is an excellent motion. I am sure that at the end of the debate here today we will receive all-party support. I look forward to that support and I encourage the opposition to take this motion at face value, analyze it for what it is. It is a sincere, positive step forward that is going to produce results and our government is committed to proceeding on the basis that we have laid out before this Assembly here today.

Thank you very much.

Mr. McRobb:   I do have a few things to add to this motion today. Generally, I support the motion but not the language used in it. I take exception to some of the language and, to me, itís clear that the Yukon Party has politicized this motion.

This motion is worded to suggest that the Yukon Party government has made Yukon First Nations full partners. That language, Mr. Speaker, implies it has already achieved that major undertaking. Thereís very little substance to back that up. There are more questions than substance so, in reality, that term is merely back-patting by this government.

Letís examine one of the most prominent examples so far ó the memorandum of understanding signed with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation regarding the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Mr. Speaker, the needs and positions and interests of other First Nations whose traditional territory is involved with this project were ignored. So, right there, we have a classic example of how this government has not achieved working in full partnership with Yukon First Nations.

On that point alone, I cannot vote for this motion, I cannot support the language used in this motion.

There are three First Nations in my riding, Mr. Speaker. One of them, the largest First Nation in the territory, the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, has its traditional territory extending into Whitehorse, where many of its members live. It has First Nationsí rights within traditional territories and has a direct interest supported by the Umbrella Final Agreement in the Whitehorse correctional facility.

Why was this First Nation government cut out of this deal? They were not even consulted. Point made, Mr. Speaker. This motion will not be getting my support today.

Now, there are plenty of other examples as well.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:   The Premier is chirping away from the front bench across the way about press releases. I would imagine they already have theirs crafted.

The Justice minister, who spoke previously, indicated that she would personally undertake to send mail-outs to Yukon First Nations of the transcripts of what we say in regard to this motion.

Well, I only hope those transcripts are not taken out of context because if the Yukon Party picks and chooses quotes from the speeches, takes them out of context, then it might achieve some political goals. Letís not do that. Letís send the whole transcript so that itís clear to everybody why I will not be supporting this motion today as worded.

Letís examine another whole major area: the Yukon governmentís budget which is before us in this sitting. Were the priorities of the Yukon First Nations met by this Yukon Party budget? Well, I canít speak for every First Nation in the territory, but I have consulted the First Nations in my riding and the answer is clearly, no, there is practically nothing in this budget for those First Nations even though they expressed their priorities to this Yukon Party government.

We see a lot of rhetoric and back-patting in the language used in this motion, Mr. Speaker, but very little substance to back it up. Itís all talk and no action.

Now, letís review a few of the budget priorities from First Nations that Iím aware of that are not in the Yukon Party budget. What about how this government cancelled the new Burwash Landing sewage lagoon? Mr. Speaker, where was the consultation there? Did this government consult with the Kluane First Nation or Champagne-Aishihik First Nation about cancelling this project? Well, Mr. Speaker, I ask this government to table evidence to substantiate that it did.

The Yukon Party did nothing for the top priority of the riding, which was to build facilities for elders and seniors of the Kluane region. Mr. Speaker, this has been a priority of the people in my riding for many, many years. The Yukon Party candidate in the last election in this riding spoke very positively about such a facility. Well, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing positive in this Yukon Party governmentís budget about this facility, not even a mention of it. As a matter of fact, this project has probably taken a couple of steps back because the Member for Klondike was quick to announce that regional facilities built in the term of this Yukon Party government will be constructed in Dawson City and Watson Lake ó no mention of anywhere else; no mention.

Shame on them. The needs of my constituents, especially elders, are clear. They want to remain in their home communities and continue to contribute to their communities where they are needed and where they want to continue living. They donít want to be shipped into Whitehorse and forgotten, as is happening now. Yet the Health minister stands up and says there are more seniors in Whitehorse. Where does he think they come from, Mr. Speaker. They donít all live in Whitehorse. They get shipped in here from several communities. Shame on him for that.

Now, what about funding for treatment centres? I know for sure this need was expressed. Have we heard anything from this Yukon Party government in response to this First Nation priority? The answer is no, nothing.

What about highway contracts that were cancelled, Mr. Speaker? I personally know there are several First Nation members in my riding alone who have worked on highway contracts and who will be out of a job this coming summer and probably next year and the year after ó probably until the next election when we get a government in here that can do the job.

The only project in the riding is basically the continuation of a two-year contract that is cost shared with the federal governmentís strategic highways infrastructure program near Cracker Creek for $2 million. Well, big deal. If this government didnít spend that, half the money would have been lost from the federal government. It had no option but to continue that project, but it started nothing new, even though there are two whole sections of highway out there that need to be upgraded to present-day standards.

Mr. Speaker, the Alaska Highway is our main thoroughfare through the Yukon. Sections to the south near Watson Lake have been completed but there are still two sections between Whitehorse and Haines Junction in need of the same attention.

We see in this Yukon Party budget that there is funding now for the bridge at Teslin and funding in the Member for Klondikeís riding for road repairs that have mysteriously appeared.

Well, Mr. Speaker, this Yukon Party government is shifting money out of the budget for regions not held by their members into regions held by their members, and that is simple politics. But Iíll tell you what, it doesnít wash with the Yukon electorate, and weíll be sure to bring this to the publicís attention ó in this budget and any other budget.

What about the reduced Shakwak funding by $5 million? And moreover, what about a further appropriation from the U.S. government to fund future sections? There is no mention of that in this budget. How is that working in full partnership with First Nations? These are the very priorities of the First Nations in my riding.

What about funding for the youth centre in the Champagne-Aishihik First Nationís village? There is not a mention of that. How is that working in full partnership?

There is no mention of recreation facilities for Haines Junction, even though the request has been made year after year. The village wants to participate and help host sporting activities as part of the Canada Winter Games 2007, yet its current facilities are inadequate to do that. The town needs a new facility.

What about other items, like daycare funding? This government knows that daycare funding is a priority of Yukon First Nations, yet there is absolutely nothing in its budget to meet that need.

How is that working in full partnership with Yukon First Nations?

Now, there are other Yukon-wide actions by this government that also deny working in partnership with Yukon First Nations. There are cuts to education, cuts to social services programs and health programs. What about the inability of this government to extend the rate relief program, which could have put $40 a month in the pockets of Yukon Electrical customers? What about ending the clawback? These are simple things that this government could have done with the stroke of a pen in a matter of minutes, yet it failed to do it. It failed to live up to its own rhetoric. That is not working in full partnership with anyone ó no one.

I want to turn now to another major concern I have with the language in this motion, and that is this term "Team Yukon". Well, I am sure that Iím not alone when I say I find that term highly patronizing. I am sure that our athletes who have represented our territory at sporting events elsewhere in Canada and outside in other parts of the world also find it patronizing that the very reference that has endeared them to Yukoners has now been politicized by this government.

Furthermore, this phrase "Team Yukon" is not a new phrase. Itís not original. Previous governments have used "Team Yukon." Couldnít the Yukon Party at least come up with something original on its own? Maybe not.

It seems they lack in imagination, they lack creativity, Mr. Speaker. Look at their budget. It was completely dead, flat, void of any new initiatives giving hope to Yukoners, planting seeds of economic development, planting hopes for the future in order to keep people here, in order to raise families here ó completely void. Shame on them.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:   Well, Mr. Speaker, Iíll just take a moment to reflect on whatís happening here. There are several catcalls coming from the members of the Yukon Party across the way. Obviously we got them wound up a little bit. We must be hitting nerves across the way there, because theyíre looking much more activated now than they were before ó

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

Point of order

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

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I must for the memberís benefit interject. We arenít wound up. We are finding this quite amusing and urge the member to continue. It clearly sets apart the NDP position and our governmentís position of partnership when it comes to First Nations.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker:   There is no point of order, simply a dispute between members. Carry on, please, Member for Kluane.

Mr. McRobb:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That was merely a rude interruption from the Premier. Really, Mr. Speaker, the Premier should apologize.

Unparliamentary language

Speaker:   To characterize an interruption as rude is unparliamentary, and Iíd ask you to withdraw that.

Withdrawal of remark

Mr. McRobb:   Well, letís say it was not polite, Mr. Speaker.

Now, letís talk about the concept "Team Yukon" for a moment, shall we? Now, the term "Team Yukon" implies that everybody is part of a team, everybody is onside. Well, it may never be possible to get everybody onside. There could be dissenting voices, and that should be perfectly all right. We live in a democracy. We canít all hold the same position.

Thatís what is great about this world we live in today. Our views and our people are diverse. We donít all sing the same tune and act the same way or look the same way, Mr. Speaker. We are individuals. When it comes to Yukon First Nations, we must respect their individualism and their distinctiveness and their own priorities and positions and views. We canít try to force them to all have the same view as the Yukon government.

It reminds me, Mr. Speaker, of U.S. President George Bush when he developed the rhetoric last year, "Either youíre with us or against us." Such language is neither respectful nor understanding of our First Nations. We must respect them for their own uniqueness, their own cultures and their own positions, even when they may disagree with the Yukon government.

On that, Mr. Speaker, I want to just say that government is supposed to be government for everybody, not just for some of the people some of the time, and definitely not supporters of any one political party. Good government is supposed to govern well for all, and I donít see that happening.

Letís talk about the Umbrella Final Agreement. This government says it respects the Umbrella Final Agreement; however ó

Speaker:   Order please. The member has two minutes.

Mr. McRobb:   Thank you.

I heard the Premier speak at the 30th anniversary of the UFA back on February 14, and he spoke in very endearing and respectful terms of the UFA.

However, I also saw him on the Northbeat newscast speaking at an oil and gas meeting in Calgary, where he said something to the effect that the government would walk around the UFA to achieve its objectives. I see a difference between walking around the UFA and respecting the UFA, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for Porter Creek Centre talked about the Vuntut Gwitchin going to Washington. That happened long before this government ever came to power. In fact, it happened long before the Yukon Party was formed, back in 1992 ó I think it was.

The Yukon Party must learn to work for the good of all Yukoners, not just party supporters, not just people who are supporting it from day to day. It must treat us in the opposition with respect as well. After all, it campaigned on words like "cooperating" and including the opposition parties, all MLAs in this House, for the betterment of Yukon. Weíre not seeing that happen. We see this government cutting briefing material to us, not answering questions in Question Period, not cooperating on various matters. Even yesterday, I asked the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources if he would at least give us a chance to have a say on whether any cottage lots were developed in our ridings. He refused ó a very simple request, and he refused. Thatís not cooperating.

Speaker:   Order please. The memberís time is up.

Mr. Fairclough:   I know that the Yukon Party would like fewer people speaking to this, as few as possible, but I do have a few words to say about this motion presented by the members opposite.

After taking a second look at the motion and the words that are in it, we have some problems with it. The general outcome of the motion in working with First Nations ó thatís a given and thatís what governments should do. I know the members opposite would like to put it in the form of a motion to give themselves some direction. So, itís okay to bring a motion like this to the floor of the Legislature.

I certainly would have hoped to see the members opposite follow some of the agreements signed by government. This would naturally have fallen into place in how governments should act. Itís what governments should do. Working with First Nations has, I would say, for the past two governments, been a fairly high priority and it should not stop. So, if the Yukon Party government would like to give itself assurance through a motion to do this, itís good for them, I suppose, if thatís the kind of direction they would like ó making First Nations full partners in economic development.

I would like to know what the real definition of that is. What is a full partner? What does it really mean? Have the Yukon Party members even researched that, to know what it really means? I donít believe they have.

Under chapter 22 of the Umbrella Final Agreement, First Nations have it quite clearly spelled out about being involved in economic development activities within their traditional territories. I would think the Yukon Party would follow that. It should have been mentioned in the motion, perhaps ó to uphold the final agreement of each of the First Nations.

I was quite surprised by the direction of the members opposite on this. I have not heard from all of the members opposite, even mentioning some of the First Nationsí names. Who on that side of the House, in this sitting so far, has mentioned the Selkirk First Nation, or the First Nation of Na Cho Nyäk Dun? Not all of them on that side of the House have mentioned those names or even know where the traditional territories go, or are, and what they are involved in to date.

As a matter of fact, I feel that the Yukon Party has very little to go on when it comes to economic development and new thinking in the territory, and itís now jumping on the First Nationsí ability to move things forward ó the fact that they have dollars coming into the territory and land selections specifically set up for economic development. Is there anything wrong with that? No. First Nations have negotiated for the last 30 years to ensure this would take place.

The other thing I was quite surprised to hear, especially from the mover of the motion, is that he said that there are splits in the territory and they started when the land claims negotiation took place.

I was quite surprised at that. They have negotiated for 30 years; now is the time to mend those wounds and move on and work together. I was quite surprised. Maybe the member opposite did not even know that he said that, but it shocked me because that was one of the reasons why First Nations sat down at the negotiating tables, to ensure that their rights and privileges that theyíve been so accustomed to can continue through a land claim negotiation. Itís not going to make all of us the same. Who talked about the First Nation rights, for example, within their final agreements? That is always going to be there and it doesnít matter what the Yukon Party or any other government does, it is not going to take those rights away.

I certainly hope the members opposite recognize that, because it is important. I really feel that, before the Yukon Party even come and ask members of this House to pass a motion like this, maybe they should clean up their own act before even presenting a motion like this.

How can a government ask others to join a team ó their team, this Team Yukon approach ó when they themselves are not even abiding by their own rules, their own laws? They are asking others to join a team ó the Team Yukon approach ó in this manner. I find it hard to believe that, in a matter of months, they call themselves a team in good standing with the public and ask that we take this approach.

To create laws and acts and then break them is something else. Iím referring to the Government Accountability Act, but there are others too. Iíll refer to another one. What happened to the government-to-government relationship when it came to partners in education? In the short five months that this Yukon Party has been in power, Mr. Speaker, have they fulfilled that? I havenít seen it. I havenít seen the respect of going out and talking to First Nation people about the Education Act review again. That wasnít there with the previous government. That didnít take place but they want it to take place, so why didnít it take place?

If a First Nation writes a letter and signs it and sends it to the Premier or the government, should they be punished for that? Is that what you call good government-to-government relationships? The Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation, along with the village, signed a letter to the Premier, and what happened? They were struck off the list, just like that ó boom ó with no final solution, no immediate discussions took place with that community, with that First Nation. Boom, they were gone. They were off the list. What happened? They decided to put another community on the list. Well, so much for all the work that Carmacks has done in the past. Thatís gone. Is that respect for a First Nation?

How can we start off on that footing and ask people in this House to do this and say that they have done it? Thatís the wording in the motion, Mr. Speaker ó that they have done this. It surprises me a bit, too, that weíve gone to that extent.

What happens now? Are we going to suddenly be moving into a government-to-government position when we deal with First Nations now? I hope so, because this motion really directs government to do that. When it comes to treatment centres, will First Nations be recognized for what they have been doing in the past by this Yukon Party government? I hope so, because there are a lot of commitments in this motion, should the Yukon Party government take this motion seriously.

When a government shows the respect it has to our seniors and elders, as the Minister of Health did, is that showing good governance? Is that making an improvement over the past? Is that what youíre going to ask others to join in on ó with people of, I would say, that mentality who are there, our ministers? I would say that not all members opposite have that same direction when it comes to protected areas. I donít think thereís a full understanding of that at all on the Yukon Party side. I donít think many of them, if any, have read the strategy, for example.

Now, itís all back to the First Nations with SMAs being recognized as protected areas, which are totally different, but thatís the approach the Yukon Party is taking. Have they sat down with any of the First Nations that have final agreements ratified, to say, "Letís get back to the negotiating table and negotiate more SMAs"? Has that happened? No, not at this point, Mr. Speaker.

Is that showing respect to First Nations? There is no team set up to do that, and this is far down the road. I am sure that there are many First Nations that are very interested in getting back to the negotiating table to negotiate special management areas ó in lieu of protected areas, I suppose. They have the full right to do that anyway; itís in their final agreement to come back and address that. But most of the north part of the Yukon is covered by ratified final agreements. To go back and re-address this, would be of much interest to me, to my First Nation, to the First Nations in my riding. Theyíve done a lot of work in this regard and they are very interested in it. I think even the mining community might be interested in that because we are not talking about small pieces of land here, weíre talking about huge sections of land taken out for ó what did the Yukon Party say? ó protection. So they are very interested in that, and it would be interesting to know exactly how far this goes.

I certainly hope the Yukon Party recognizes the rights of aboriginal people and doesnít make a backward movement to 30 years ago. I know the members opposite said that the land claims agreements made the split but, in fact, the agreements were drawing people together moreso than anything else. As a matter of fact, it was the First Nation people who invited the Yukon government to the table. They werenít involved in that before. They made, I would say, the first movements to really try to work together, because they saw an advantage to it too.

I remember 30 years ago when a prominent person here in the Yukon Territory did not like what was going to take place with land claims agreements. As a matter of fact, the words were that "there will be blood on the streets in Whitehorse" if talks of land claims even started. Thatís how far it had moved.

Thatís incredible. The approach that First Nations took was a non-violent type of negotiations, get to the table. They were able to bring forward their knowledge and put it on the table and come up with agreements to be recognized, to have sustainability within their First Nations, to have the ability to make laws in their traditional territory ó of course, in conjunction with Yukon, because of the many people who use their territories.

Itís frustrating to know that all the background stuff is not fully recognized anyway, in what Iíve heard in this House on this motion in regard to having a good working relationship with First Nations.

What are full partners? Maybe the mover of the motion, in speaking to this, can explain fully what being full partners really means because I think it goes beyond putting together a Wildlife Act with the First Nations, which many of them have done already ó lots of work has taken place far beyond what government will even be dealing with here.

There is lots to say on this and I probably can go on and on and bring out some of the sections in the final agreements that might surprise members opposite.

Like I said before, I am not comfortable with the words in this motion, and I certainly donít believe that government has made a priority of having good government relationships with First Nations. It has been said here before. It was reflected even in the agreement, in leaving Ta'an Kwach'an, for example, out of a major decision in an area where they are interested.

So, I would like to make an amendment to the motion.

Amendment proposed

So, Iíd like to move:

THAT Motion No. 12 be amended by replacing the words "Government has" in the first line with the words "Yukon Party Government should," and by replacing the phrase "committed to a ĎTeam Yukoní approach in making" in clause (1) with the word "make", and by replacing the word "made" in clause (2) with the word "make".

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Member for Mayo-Tatchun

THAT Motion No. 12 be amended by replacing the words "Government has" in the first line with the words "Yukon Party Government should," and by replacing the phrase "committed to a ĎTeam Yukoní approach in making" in clause (1) with the word "make", and by replacing the word "made" in clause (2) with the word "make".

Mr. Fairclough:   In speaking to the amendment, members on our side of the House here, the NDP, have said that we are uncomfortable with some of the wording and the way itís written and have made, I would say, minor amendments to the motion with respect to the preamble. In the section where, I would say, the real direction is given, there havenít been changes made.

We make these amendments because we feel there are many examples where government has not acted in a manner that it states in Motion No. 12.

We donít need to go over those again. That was one of the reasons for taking the word "has" out and putting "Yukon Party should" ó they should do this. I donít think it is anything major. After all, we are giving direction to government to do something, and this is what they should do.

Also, in taking out the "Team Yukon" approach, others are uncomfortable with this word. Itís used to refer to our Yukon teams in the Arctic Winter Games and so on, and itís better to go straight to the point, rather than going this route ó going straight to the point of making First Nations full partners and cutting out the preamble. We donít think it is necessary to even have it, if the direction is to directly involve and respect other senior governments in the territory, which are First Nations.

And, of course, the last amendment in clause 2 was simply because of the amendments before to change the word "made" to "make" ó make a priority of establishing government-to-government relationships. Thatís not fully done yet, so thatís what governments should do. Thatís what the Yukon Party government should do. Letís do that; letís make the amendment to show that this is a movement, rather than having the Yukon Party pat itself on the back and saying that this has happened when, clearly ó I could refer to my own First Nation, Mr. Speaker ó this has not happened. Thatís why we bring forward these amendments to clean it up a little bit and to give good direction to government. This is what government should do.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker:   Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?

Mr. Hardy:   Itís obvious that the government on the other side has no intention of treating our amendment with any respect or seriousness for the manner it was brought forward, yet they expect us to debate theirs. This has become quite a pattern across the way. We have brought forward motions, Mr. Speaker, that they have either talked the clock out on or abused, and yet there are motions they have brought forward already in this sitting that we have voted for and supported. The moment we bring forward an amendment that talks about the future instead of talking about the past, which their motion talks about ó the past three months in government as they like to say, patting themselves on the back ó we talk about the future and what can be done, what should be done, but they havenít got the time of day to talk about it.

We have lived up to our agreement, Mr. Speaker, to work with this government. We have supported their motions in the past. They have not supported a single one of our motions yet. We are making a small amendment in this case with regard to the future and what should be done. It doesnít change the intent of this motion, it respects it ó the member across the way here is catcalling, shouting abuse; he doesnít even have the decency to be quiet and let me speak to this amendment.

He continues to make gestures across the way. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, why this Legislature has deteriorated in the past.

I can point straight across the way to that member, that Premier. This is talking about the future, Mr. Speaker. This is brought forward with sincerity and honesty by my colleague from Mayo-Tatchun. He is a First Nation man speaking from his heart about what he sees for the future. This is the kind of treatment we get.

We removed the Team Yukon language for a variety of reasons. One is that my colleague finds it offensive. I have problems with it as well. I have been on Team Yukon. I have represented this Yukon in sporting events. I have coached as a member of Team Yukon. Now I see it in this language, I see it politicized. I have to wonder, would I want to be a part of Team Yukon, which, in four months, has cut shelters with no consultation, has not acted on the Education Act review and brought people together to discuss and resolve the issues outstanding in it but has decided to talk about new strategies that are being created in the back rooms, Mr. Speaker, about a budget that did not obviously have Yukon input ó no consultation ó about, just recently, a Team Yukon approach.

The changes in the WCB, both at the appeal level and at the board level, are going to have far-reaching impacts on the way it is viewed, the way the people who are injured are treated. That is not what the WCB was created for.

The Team Yukon approach is to remove a respected person as the chair of the appeals tribunal, who does not make the decisions but writes the decisions ó who does not make the decisions.

This person was removed because she did such a darn good job, Mr. Speaker. She is qualified and she lost her job because of that.

How about the seniors ó Team Yukon approach? How were they treated at Macaulay Lodge? What about at the jail? This is around mutual respect, consultation and collaboration ó absolutely great words, but all First Nations were not consulted about the construction or the programs in that jail when they were announced. That is not a Team Yukon that I would want to be part of.

YPAS ó was there any consultation? Is that a Team Yukon approach, to cancel YPAS?

Our amendment is talking about the future. Letís not talk about the problems that have happened over the last three months, Mr. Speaker. They pointed to them; letís drop that. All weíre asking on this side is to talk about the future. Letís agree with these words, make a priority of establishing government relationships with First Nations based on mutual respect, consultation and collaboration, with the objective of reducing barriers and providing more cost-effective services for all Yukon citizens ó absolutely, we agree with that.

We did not change the last part of it, which is often the most important part of a motion. We did not touch it: "THAT this House urges the government to ensure this approach extends to all areas of governance, including the economy, education, health, justice, social and community services." We respect that as well.

We want to point to the future and remove the words that some of our First Nation members on this side of the House found offensive.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker:   Are you prepared for the question on the amendment? Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Agree.

Some Hon. Members:   Disagree.

Speaker:   I think the ayes have it. I declare the amendment defeated.

Amendment to Motion No. 12 negatived

Speaker:   Is there any debate on the main motion? If the Member for Southern Lakes now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to speak?

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Mr. Hardy:   For clarification, I believe you said, "I think the ayes have it."

Speaker:   Sorry ó the nays. My apologies.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Speaker:   In my eagerness to please.

So, if the member does now speak, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, Iíve witnessed today what can only be defined as political manoeuvring. I find that unfortunate because the attempts at political manoeuvring have seriously diminished the spirit and intent of not only whatís in this motion, but what an election campaign was won on, what an election campaign was debated on, what an election campaign was fought on, and the election results speak to that.

Our party, our government, committed clearly to go beyond where the Umbrella Final Agreement had taken First Nations.

Our government has committed clearly to go beyond the "them and us" attitude that has evolved over 30 years of negotiations. Our government had committed to create full economic partnerships and full partnerships with First Nations on collaborating in governing the territory. We have improved on the approach to our relationship with First Nations because of that commitment.

Letís look at some of the real facts, Mr. Speaker. The members opposite have made much about the fact that there is no substance in what we are saying. Well, this government, first and foremost, has put money and resources toward developing this partnership and this much-improved relationship. The results will come. It takes work. This is a new approach with First Nations, and First Nations are not going to be dictated to by our government. First Nations are going to be the architects of the future of this territory under our government, along with us and Yukoners. Thatís what Team Yukon is all about.

Team Yukon, contrary to what the opposition is saying, is not made up of the perceptions and opinions that are involved in political debate. Team Yukon includes everybody. It includes our employees. It includes First Nations. It includes seniors. It includes the youth. It includes the women of this territory. It includes everybody who chooses to join an approach to governing this territory that will change the direction it has gone. Nobody can dispute the fact that this territory has been going in the wrong direction. The mass exodus of people is testimony to that. The terrible and deplorable state of our economy is testimony to that. The difficulties that every First Nation that has settled its final agreement faces daily in trying to achieve what the spirit and intent of those final agreements was all about ó itís happening consistently across the board, whether it be in justice, whether it be in education or whether it be in economic development ó chapter 22 as the members opposite pointed out.

Mr. Speaker, thereís much more to this than political gamesmanship. This is a hard-and-fast commitment by our government to collaborate with First Nations, not only in a full economic partnership. Let me define that for the members opposite. Simply put, instead of consulting with First Nations, we are committing to involving them in the decision. In other words, they will participate in economic decisions that are made and taken in this territory. They will share in the burdens of those decisions and, by the same token, because of that, they will share in the benefits that will accrue from those decisions.

Weíre taking it further, Mr. Speaker. We not only apply that to economic development, we apply that to education, to health, to justice and to social and community services. We are going to empower First Nations, as they should be. They have a great deal to contribute to this territory. We recognize the benefits and contributions that First Nations make. Thereís no question about that.

The members opposite, in this political gamesmanship, are doing a disservice to a new vision and a new direction that is shared by First Nations, because that is the vision and that is the direction that they envisioned would be taking place 30 years ago. No First Nation in this territory will dispute this fact.

The negotiations were long and hard. They have achieved much but, when it comes down to those fundamental principles and that fundamental vision, the difficulties are there and the difficulties have been shown throughout that there is no solution coming from governments.

The mandates have not changed at the tax table. Well, this government is making moves toward solving those problems. This government is committed to create a high-level committee with the First Nations tax table to address this issue so that we ó no matter what we do, whether it be sharing tax room or any other initiative involved in this area ó create a net gain for Yukon. First Nations share that vision and always have.

The members opposite talk about justice and the lack of consultation. Well, the members opposite, then, do not agree with the final agreement that has been entered into. The final agreement, simply stated, commits the government to deal with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation on any government project in excess of $3 million. Thatís a fact; itís in their agreement, but the memorandum of understanding that we entered into with that First Nation commits both the First Nation and the government to deal with all Yukon First Nations on justice, on correction, on programming, on design and development of a correctional facility. It also commits us to deal with Yukoners and Yukon contractors ó both Yukon government and the First Nations.

The members opposite tried to amend something here that dramatically diminished what this is all about. This is not about the Yukon Party; this is about the Yukon Territory, its First Nation citizens, its First Nation governments and how we will interact and relate to each other.

At the end of the day, this was a very simple motion brought forward to see if the members opposite were willing to take the same step that this government is showing its willingness to do.

Mr. Speaker, if the members opposite think this is some empty vessel, this began early in November. The list of meetings and discussions and progress is here on these pages. When the member opposite says, "What about my First Nation?" óand Iím talking about the Member for Mayo-Tatchun ó let me point out to that member that, on a very important item, corrections, a meeting was held with the chiefs from Champagne-Aishihik, Little Salmon-Carmacks, Selkirk First Nation, Na Cho Nyäk Dun, Teslin Tlingit Council, the Vuntut Gwitchin and the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, and discussions of corrections overall and the Whitehorse Correctional Centre were the topics that were dealt with at that meeting.

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation sent a letter to every First Nation in this territory, inviting them to participate ó and the list goes on and on.

When we look at the results, that MOU with the Kwanlin Dun is product. Thereís no question about it. When we look at what weíve done with the Vuntut Gwitchin in finalizing, finally, Fishing Branch, itís set in place, working with the First Nation to solve the impediments to achieving that, working with the First Nation on reaffirming the governmentís commitment on the government-to-government protocol and advancing that.

There is product here, Mr. Speaker. The members opposite know that, and thatís why I say the political gamesmanship is something that does a disservice to First Nations in this territory.

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about work with First Nations, the CYFN has brought forward resolutions on justice that exactly express what it is we are working toward with Kwanlin Dun and all other First Nations in this territory.

There is a problem here in justice, when the percentage of those incarcerated are predominantly First Nation. We are warehousing those prisoners. We are not healing or rehabilitating them; we are warehousing them. The testimony to that is a recidivism rate of well over 80 percent.

The list goes on and on, but I donít propose for a moment here that thereís any more use for political rhetoric from either side of this House. The time has come to show where we all stand when it comes to our full partnership with First Nations ó a full economic partnership, and a partnership that would have us, the Yukon government, and all First Nation governments collaborating on governing this territory, to remove the barriers between us, and to implement a more cost-effective form of government.

Mr. Speaker, we can put on the record today the position we all take in that regard, and we will vote on this motion. I urge the members opposite to deliberate before they cast their vote on what this really means. We are not going to be deterred by some debate in this Legislature that was intended to deflect the direction that we are taking with First Nations.

We will press ahead. We will move forward this agenda. It is the highest priority for the government and for the people of this territory. The results of November 4 bear that out. There was no secret about what our position was out there in the public. It was stated over and over and over, in every public forum, what we would do with First Nations.

When it comes to YPAS ó and I keep hearing this: where was the consultation? It was 30 days of a campaign.

There is no consultation like it. Itís door to door. Itís public. Itís on every news medium. That is consultation, and we lived up to that commitment. Mr. Speaker, we ó this government ó have changed the course governments take with First Nations. Itís no longer "them and us"; itís "us". Itís no longer this division of, "This is yours, go ahead, and weíll direct everything to you under your settlement lands." No, weíre offering more. Weíre saying, "You, after 30 hard years of negotiation, have achieved something and now we want to enhance and add to it, because itís time that the First Nations people of this territory participated as they should in a meaningful way. Thatís why we have First Nations involved in government today, in our government. Thatís why we have First Nations in the Premierís office. Thatís why we have First Nations out there working diligently to carry forward with this commitment and this agenda. That speaks volumes, not only to Yukoners but to First Nations people.

We will continue on with our efforts to achieve what is the most important thing in the future of this territory ó a collaboration between the Yukon government and First Nation governments. It will effect change. It will commit to a better and brighter future for all Yukoners. We believe it. That is our vision. That is our agenda, and we are going to carry through with that agenda.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the members opposite, rethink what you have said here today on the floor of the Legislature. Rethink it clearly, because you have made mistakes. The members opposite must realize that there is a difference here in the approach being taken, and they know that. They know that there is no place in this area for political gamesmanship.

There are no political boundaries between First Nations and the government of the day, because they too are governments. Itís our relationship. How do we interact as governments? This is all about formalizing that relationship and taking it beyond. Itís about the future for all of us. Itís a new way of thinking. Itís a different approach from what weíve had for 30 long years. Weíve achieved much in those 30 years. Itís time now to get with delivering on implementation and governing the territory as full partners ó First Nations and Yukon government ó for the benefit of the citizens of this territory and for a much brighter future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hardy:   Surprise, surprise, I get to talk to this one as well. Itís very interesting to listen to the comments from the Premier as he gives us one heck of a lecture over on this side and tells us that there is no room for political rhetoric, yet we listen to him for 15 minutes spill out political rhetoric ó his very words. We on this side have to listen to it.

My gosh, the Premier tells us that we are not allowed to participate in it, that we should rethink our words, that we are the ones who are wrong ó nice lecture, Mr. Speaker, a very nice lecture from this Premier who talks about full partnerships and yet tells us when we can and cannot talk, when we can and cannot have an opinion.

I would go further to say that that is his true nature ó that is the true nature of this Premier and that is the way others will be treated. If he treats people in this Legislature in that manner, we can expect that same kind of treatment and those same kinds of words used with other organizations and groups and First Nations when he doesnít get his way.

What about some of the words he used? Well, he said consultation around YPAS. He said the people of the Yukon had their chance. They had 30 days of consultation. There was an election. For 30 days, people went door to door and the Yukon Party was told what to do with YPAS by the people of this territory, and that is enough. He indicates that that is consultation and, from now on, for the next four years, be quiet; youíve had your turn. That is what he is saying. That is what I heard, and those words are on record.

He talks about the election win. The Premier talks about the election win, as if the election win justifies every single action that the government will now take. Well, pardon me if I understand democracy differently, because I do not consider just winning an election the end of a voice of the people of the Yukon. I do not consider just becoming the government as the end of any type of discordant voice or input that may be different from your own.

If we follow that kind of reasoning, that would mean that this Legislature could shut down for the next four years while the government does whatever it wants, based upon the election win, and in four years, we could return and cast judgement one more time but, after that, we could shut this down again because itís not necessary, Mr. Speaker ó absolutely not necessary.

I heard the Premier say it.

How about some of the language I heard being used by the Premier? Well, itís very interesting. He talks about full partnerships. We on this side have said time and time again that we agree with that. There is no question about it, and our record stands by that. When we were in government, and standing on this side of the House today, we agree with that.

But if you listen closely and if you read the Blues tomorrow, you will also hear that First Nations will have a role to play under the Yukon government. His words, Mr. Speaker ó "under". So, every once in awhile, the cracks show. And if you listen closely, you may get a better picture of whatís happening. I think people have to be careful with the messaging weíre hearing here. Because every once in awhile, weíll hear a word that slips out, and it shows an attitude that is hidden behind the façade that is being put up out there, such as "under". Well, Iím sorry, "under" does not mean full partnerships.

I would like to know, since this motion is not about the future, and that is what our problem is ó itís not about the future. This motion talks about what has happened in the last three or four months, as the Premier so forcefully articulated ó the new approach, the brand new approach, the one thatís going to change the whole Yukon in relations with First Nations.

I would like to know, if so much has been done, what has actually been devolved to the First Nations as of now?

If they had done so much in the four months, if they can stand over there and congratulate themselves time and time again every time they stand up, then at some point I would like to see some results ó some real, real results. I would like to know what has been devolved. What programs have been devolved in four months? What kind of money has been transferred over to ensure that First Nations are full partners in the delivery of, for example, education or justice or community services. Theyíre so proud of the last four months, Mr. Speaker. Show me what has been done. We will stand here and applaud them if there is proof, if there is something there.

But I donít want to hear the rhetoric about how great the government is and how much work theyíve done and how they have completely changed the whole Yukon in the way things are going to be run, how the partnership is going to be perfectly equal and yet they talk about the First Nations being under them.

Now, we brought forward a friendly amendment. Of course weíve had our discussion around that, so Iíll talk about the motion in front of us more particularly.

Some of my concerns have been the history of this motion, in four months ó if this were brought forward in a year and there were some really concrete examples that could be pointed toward instead of the rhetoric, instead of just words ó if there were really concrete examples such as land claims signed, or that the difficulties the Kaska First Nation are experiencing with the federal government and the assistance that the territorial government has been lending are resolved, that there has been a very clear transfer of responsibilities to the First Nations throughout the territory in justice, community services, education, health, and if all those examples were there, then I could say yes, this is a motion that talks about some concrete examples.

Because there is nothing concrete there, it is very hard to support that motion.

In the second part, as Iíve said, we donít necessarily disagree with this; we think that is good wording. We think there is a lot of thought in that. We think people across the way, hopefully, sincerely believe those words; we definitely do and we would like to work together with this government to assist in any way that we can in the Legislature to make that happen.

It goes on to say "a priority of establishing government relationships with First Nations based on mutual respect." I donít think there is anyone in this House who disagrees with that. The best relationships in the world are all based on mutual respect. You may disagree on lots of issues; you may have differing opinions, but if you can hold that mutual respect as part of it, there is a greater chance of peaceful resolutions. I say that and I use the word "peaceful" in this context mainly because of the conflicts that we are seeing in the world today and the war that is happening ó the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no respect between the two leaders. Maybe there shouldnít be, but at one time there was respect there because, if anybody looks into the history, they realize that the leader of Iraq became leader through the assistance of the United States of America.

He received a tremendous amount of support and shared many of the values that the leaders back then shared. Unfortunately, at some point, that mutual respect was lost and, because of that, there has been ongoing conflict.

Having that in a motion is extremely important, because you can overcome many difficulties in life if you can maintain a respect for people who may have different opinions, views or lifestyles. Consultation and collaboration are absolutely essential. We must talk; we must consult with each other; we must learn about each otherís cultures; we must be able to put aside some of our own misunderstandings, open up our hearts and minds to understand each other; and then we must work together to find the common goals weíre trying to achieve. In the territory, itís pretty clear what some of those are ó and some of them not so clear. One clear one is economic prosperity, sustainable economic prosperity. I think thatís something thatís shared by all people of this territory. I believe that respect for the environment is something that is shared and, working together, we can achieve those. Our youth are so important in our lives for the future, and so many of them are struggling with the changes in our society and the difficulties that we face. Working together, we can accomplish a lot; working apart, we struggle.

So, thereís nothing wrong with that. It goes on with objectives of reducing barriers and providing more cost-effective services for all Yukon citizens. Personally, I would like to even add that itís not just cost effectiveness that weíre always trying to achieve, but it is long-term harmony in the delivery, and even far more effective delivery and with very measurable results in these services.

So, we know that itís not only cost-effective but theyíre actually achieving something. That could possibly have been put in there and would have gone a lot further.

Now, the final part is that this House urges the government to ensure this approach extends to all areas of governance, including the economy, education, health, justice, social and community services. As I said earlier in the amendment, weíre not opposed to that. We support that. We did it when we were in government, and we still do it and still believe it today on this side.

So, looking at this motion and wanting to work with this government ó sincerely wanting to work with this government ó Iím going to propose another amendment to the motion. The reason Iím going to be bringing forward another amendment is to ensure that ó Iím shifting a little bit here. Taking into account the words of the Premier, working together, and listening closely to him, doing something they donít often do on our side ó definitely something they havenít done on our side when we brought forward motions. So, taking into account those words the Premier has said and trying to find a way to make the motion work for us on this side and still reflect what theyíre trying to achieve on the other side so that we can have a unanimous vote in support of the motion that has been brought forward ó it would probably be said in the record.

Knowing the history of this House, it would probably be the first time ever that the opposition has supported ó with this minor amendment ó three motions from the government. I donít think it has ever happened before. Maybe Iím wrong. I am sure the Clerk can find that out. We might even go for a record ó go for four if the next one is really good.

I would like to table the following amendment.

Amendment proposed

Mr. Hardy:   I move

THAT Motion No. 12 be amended by replacing the words "Team Yukon" in clause (1) with the words "cooperative and inclusive".

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. leader of the official opposition

THAT Motion No. 12 be amended by replacing the words "Team Yukon" in clause (1) with the words "cooperative and inclusive".

Mr. Hardy:   As I said earlier on the first amendment, I talked about the difficulty that some of the members on this side had with the title "Team Yukon". Some of the First Nations had expressed a concern about that kind of labelling, that kind of categorizing. Some of the other members expressed that it was politicizing a name that has been used to represent our athletes when they have travelled and used to represent some of the trade missions, stuff like that ó Team Yukon. The concern expressed by some of the members, of course, has been that it is politicizing it. We would rather that it wasnít that way.

We feel that by removing that and putting in the clause where it is "cooperative and inclusive", would state: "committed to a cooperative and inclusive approach in making First Nations full partners in the economic development of the territory". It still respects the motion. It alters the motion almost not at all. It just removes a title that some members on this side have difficulty with.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, our attempt ó this is the second amendment. We have moved away from our first one because we did hear some of the concerns expressed by the other side, and we have reduced it down to what seemed to be the sticking point on this side for some of my colleagues here. We hope the members opposite recognize that we have brought this second amendment forward to try to find some common ground and to work collaboratively ó in the best way we can in the Legislature and in a consultative process that allows us to share the mutual respect we have for each other ó by removing what, as I said earlier, is a sticking point.

I am asking the members opposite to consider this, to weigh it carefully and, if they feel that it doesnít change their motion or the intent of the motion, to allow our contribution to become part of their motion ó the Yukon Partyís motion. Our contribution is, I guess, to make it more cohesive and more palatable ó thatís a good word, and the Premier used the word palatable ó and more collaborative within the House, and to indicate to the people outside this Legislature that we are capable of finding common ground and working together.

With those words, I hope the members opposite treat it with the respect with which we have brought it forward.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I am very pleased to see what the leader of the official opposition has just brought forward. The acrimonious debate that is created by two diametrically opposed views has all been washed away by one simple approach by the leader of the official opposition. Of course we can support this amendment to the motion. I think it does justice to the motion itself. It certainly adds the input of the official opposition as we hoped would take place at the very beginning of this debate, and I want to commend the official opposition and their leader for taking this step. I believe this will improve and enhance not only the motion, but this Legislative Assemblyís approach toward making partners ó full partners ó with the First Nations in this territory and ensuring that we will collaborate in governing the Yukon now and into the future.

I thank the members opposite and I suggest we get on the record now that we have full support of this initiative and what it really means to the Yukon, its citizens and its First Nation governments.

Some Hon. Member:   Question.

Speaker:   Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?

Some Hon. Member:   Division.

Division

Speaker:   Division has been called.

Bells

Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 13 yea, nil nay.

Speaker:   I declare the amendment carried.

Amendment to Motion No. 12 agreed to

Speaker:   Is there further debate on the main motion as amended?

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, on the main motion, as amended, I rise today, jubilant now, and greatly relieved that this House could work together to amend this very positive motion and agree to it. I would again encourage all members to support the motion as amended.

Speaker:   Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.

Division

Speaker:   Division has been called.

Bells

Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 13 yea, nil nay.

Speaker:   I declare the motion, as amended, carried.

Motion No. 12 agreed to as amended

Motion No. 59

Clerk:   Motion No. 59, standing in the name of Mr. Rouble.

Speaker:   It is moved by the Member for Southern Lakes

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) the economy of the Yukon is highly dependent upon natural resources and tourism;

(2) getting resources to markets has, in the past, been most efficiently achieved through the use of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway with port and tidewater access at Skagway, Alaska; and

(3) tourism travel into the Yukon along this route has increased significantly for many years; and

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the State of Alaska, the Province of British Columbia, the White Pass & Yukon Route railway and communities along the route to preserve the White Pass & Yukon Route railway right-of-way as an access corridor for Yukon.

 Mr. Rouble:   Iíll keep my comments short, and perhaps we can continue our record-breaking trend here with unanimous support for this motion.

Mr. Speaker, the Yukonís economy has long been based on natural resources, and thousands of tons of Yukon ore have passed over the rails and through the port in Skagway. This link, the rail link, has made it possible and feasible to build our economy and our territory. In fact, I believe one of our own members here worked to build this link.

Today, even though trains are not taking our resources to market, they are bringing the visitors to our markets. If we couldnít bring the mountain to the man, weíll now bring the man to the mountain. Tens of thousands of visitors a year travel along these rails. This link has helped to build our territory and, today, it brings in visitors. Now we need to take steps to ensure that it will exist to serve the needs of tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, Iím sure that we will all agree on the importance of ensuring that this link continues and that Yukon continues to have access to rail and to tidewater. I ask that members support this motion and urge the government to work with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the State of Alaska, British Columbia, and communities such as Carcross and Skagway, and the White Pass & Yukon Route, to preserve this right-of-way.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, this motion looks like something we could support, but I have a few questions, because the motion doesnít really spell out a lot of detail.

Mr. Speaker, one of the first questions I have is: what exactly is encompassed in the right-of-way? What I mean by that is, we know there were other rail lines in the City of Whitehorse that all supported the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad. What do we do? Do we try to reclaim land that is now developed for other purposes?

I know that one of those links now runs right through the middle of Tim Hortons. Do we try to reclaim Tim Hortons and upset people who like coffee and donuts in the morning? I donít think so.

There are some real issues as to what exactly is encompassed in the railroad corridor. I know the tracks were removed from the crossing on Second Avenue many years ago. With the development of the waterfront, preserving such a route simply may not be compatible with other plans.

I donít have the answer to that question and the answers arenít evident in the material provided by the mover of the motion today. It would have been very convenient had the mover of the motion tabled some background documentation that explained more about what this motion was about.

As for the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad, I think everybody in this House ó and most Yukoners, most certainly ó are very supportive of the concept of preserving the route. For anybody who has ever travelled from Whitehorse to Skagway on the train, they will recognize the importance of trying to preserve that route for possible reinstatement in the future.

I personally travelled the route back in 1965. It was at a time when my family was visiting relatives in the Yukon. As a matter of fact, my uncle was working for White Pass railroad at the time and provided us all free tickets compliments of White Pass & Yukon Route.

My connection to this railroad goes back a long way, Mr. Speaker ó some 38 years. I know there are plenty of Yukoners who can beat that number.

The railroad itself is part of Yukon history. It stems out of the gold rush of the 1898 era; it was a remarkable achievement. I believe there were only two narrow-gauge railways in North America. The other one in Newfoundland, I think it was, was closed years ago. I think there was another one in Peru, which I believe is no longer operating.

At some future point, if this railroad is ever resurrected, it could be the only one of its type operating in the world, and that would certainly be something to behold.

Weíre aware of the attraction of railroads to people and how important this would be to encourage tourism in the territory and the State of Alaska. Weíre well aware of the devotion demonstrated by railroad buffs from around the world, Mr. Speaker, and itís quite amazing how theyíll travel across the world just to take in other railroads. With the uniqueness of what the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad could bring, we could expect plenty of railroad buffs.

A few years ago, when they resurrected the Skagway-to-Fraser trips, and so on, there were examples of that happening even then.

So, before there could ever be a railroad into Whitehorse again along this route, a number of things would need to happen, and most certainly the first step would be to secure the corridor.

The action clause of the motion indicates that it is necessary to work cooperatively with a number of parties, including the State of Alaska, the Province of British Columbia, the White Pass & Yukon Route railway, which I suppose still has rights to the route, and communities along the route to preserve the railway right-of-way.

It also mentions the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, Mr. Speaker, but Iím not sure if there arenít additional First Nations holding rights along the route. It would seem to me that itís quite possible that Kwanlin Dun First Nation might hold traditional territory through which the right-of-way would pass. There could be other First Nations as well. I canít answer that because there simply is no background information provided with this motion, but I can say that, if the rights of other Yukon First Nations were overlooked when this motion was drafted, I would not support this motion. I donít think itís necessary to explain that, given the motion we have just gone through this afternoon that showed very clearly that all members in this Legislature are in favour of full partnerships with Yukon First Nations and in respecting their views and positions and rights.

What I would like is a little more information from across the way before I could vote in favour of this motion.

Thank you.

Mr. Hardy:   I had assumed there would be more speakers on this motion. There doesnít seem to be anyone eager at the moment but maybe after I am finished, people will be popping up all over the place.

I am not going to say anything outrageous or insulting. I am going to ask a favour, though, in this motion ó if I can find it here.

Itís a motion thatís dear to my heart, and I am not going to go on long about how trains have played a big role in my life but they actually have in the Yukon. I have a fondness for the trains ó the White Pass train that goes beyond standing along the tracks or walking along the tracks and waving at the train as it used to go by. I do know that many people who grew up here used to welcome the train at Christmastime when it would it come into the White Pass station. I remember, as a kid, the train coming down into the White Pass station and we, as children, would all be on Main Street. I think we would be in Hougenís or that area, and then we would walk down to the White Pass station and we would get on the train. The train would go up to Utah ó which is, as most people know, I think, just before MacRae. At Utah, we would pick up Santa Claus with his gifts. It was very, very exciting for children. Then the train would come back down to White Pass and we would all go up Main Street, and there would be this gift giving in the store of Hougenís. That is something that I have often lamented isnít there today. Maybe it is because it was a different time.

Whitehorse, I think, at that period was around 4,000 or 5,000 people. You could really accommodate a lot of children quite easily. Many businesses, individuals and organizations worked hard to put this together. But, of course, the big attraction was to get on that train in the middle of winter with their little heaters, go and get Santa Claus, and come back.

So, that was my first encounter with the White Pass train. Interestingly enough, as I grew up, I had the opportunity to work on the rail lines for White Pass in the summers and at Bennett, as well. I left and went to British Columbia and worked on the rail line there for a bit over a winter, and then came back. I got a job again with White Pass and was stationed at Pennington. I also worked up in the White Pass area.

I still consider that period ó the last job specifically ó as probably one of the nicest jobs Iíve ever had in my life. It was a joy to work out there all winter long with the crew. It was good work and well-paying. I got to meet my American crew, as well, the ones just across the line, and developed very strong friendships out there.

The White Pass & Yukon Route has a place in my heart. My grandfather was also an engineer for, I think it was CN, for 30-odd years. I grew up very close to my grandfather. As a matter of fact, my grandfather and grandmother looked after me for about a year and a half. I always remember the stories he used to tell.

I think just about everybody in the Yukon would love to see the train come all the way back into Whitehorse and see the re-establishment of, first off, the tourism industry as it continues to grow around that historic train, as well as going back to using it for what it was originally intended for, predominantly, which was the shipping of goods ó what it did for many years, especially when it was hauling ore many years ago. I think everybody would love to see that.

Because of those reasons, I have a lot of support for this motion. However, I do have a concern here, and itís in the last section of the motion. Iím going to read this: "THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation, the State of Alaska, the Province of British Columbia, the White Pass & Yukon Route railway and communities along the route to preserve the White Pass & Yukon Route railway right-of-way as an access corridor for the Yukon."

Like my colleague from Kluane, it would be nice for me to have had a little more background detail to understand exactly what that means, because I donít have that knowledge. Itís hard to support a motion when itís pointing to some sort of action but you donít have the knowledge to make the decision. But thatís still not the issue I have here.

Iíll see how it goes, but Iíd like to propose a friendly amendment. And what I would like to do with the friendly amendment is to make the motion a little bit broader. Iím not sure if itís only the Carcross-Tagish First Nation that has lands that the rail goes on. If weíre talking about from Whitehorse to Skagway, weíre talking about the Kwanlin Dun as well. This is their traditional area. It could include the Ta'an Kwach'an. I believe they have some claims in this area as well ó land claim allocations.

Iím not sure if there are any other First Nations whose territory this rail corridor may be part of, so Iím looking for some direction from the other side with my friendly amendment. I have asked our staff to see if there is some kind of wording we could put in that would be more inclusive and see if we can get something together to just make it a little bit broader so we can move forward on this and still not leave anybody out. There might also even be First Nations in British Columbia, in that section, who should be included in this, so that we donít leave anybody out. That really is my only concern about this motion, so Iím looking for some guidance on that from the other side, if they have some suggestions.

Could I make a request, Mr. Speaker? Could we recess for a couple of minutes or stop for a minute to work this out?

Amendment proposed

Mr. Hardy:   I move

THAT Motion No. 59 be amended by deleting the final paragraph and substituting for it the following:

"THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with all First Nations and communities along the route, the State of Alaska, the Province of British Columbia, and the White Pass & Yukon Route railway to preserve the White Pass & Yukon Route railway right-of-way as an access corridor for Yukon."

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. leader of the official opposition

THAT Motion No. 59 be amended by deleting the final paragraph and substituting for it the following:

"THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with all First Nations and communities along the route, the State of Alaska, the Province of British Columbia, and the White Pass & Yukon Route railway to preserve the White Pass & Yukon Route railway right-of-way as an access corridor for Yukon."

Amendment to Motion No. 59 agreed to

Speaker:   Is there any further debate on the motion as amended?

If the Member for Southern Lakes now speaks, he will close debate.

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Iím searching for a word that expresses more than jubilance now. Iíll refrain from choosing the word "ecstasy", though.

Iíd like to ask all members to support the motion as amended.

Speaker:   Are you prepared for the question on the motion as amended?

Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Members:   Division.

Division

Speaker:   Division has been called.

Bells

Speaker:   Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Agree.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Agree.

Mr. Arntzen:   Agree.

Mr. Rouble:   Agree.

Mr. Hardy:   Agree.

Mr. McRobb:   Agree.

Mr. Fairclough:   Agree.

Mr. Cardiff:   Agree.

Mrs. Peter:   Agree.

Clerk:   Mr. Speaker, the results are 13 yea, nil nay.

Amendment agreed to

Motion No. 59 agreed to as amended

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

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

Motion agreed to

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

The House adjourned at 5:56 p.m.

 

 

The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 2, 2003:

03-1-25

Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment: term report (January 2001-March 2002) (Kenyon)