Tuesday, November 4, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of Women Abuse Prevention Month
Hon. Mr. Fentie:I rise in the House today as the minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate to recognize November as Women Abuse Prevention Month.
This year, as in the past, the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre is leading the public awareness campaign surrounding Women Abuse Prevention Month. I urge all Yukoners to watch for the displays around town. The centre, working with a committee of community groups and government departments, has organized an RCMP-taught self-defence class for women, movie nights for women and a workshop on healthy relationships for women and men put on by the family violence prevention unit.
In support of the womenís centre, the Womenís Directorate will be running a series of radio and print ads emphasizing the message that a manís strength is not for hurting. As well, the Womenís Directorate announced yesterday $100,000 of one-time monies will be dedicated to deal with high levels of violence facing aboriginal women in the territory. The intense interest in the recent northern community conference on sexual abuse proved that there is no room in a thinking, caring society for acts of violence of any kind. As individuals, families and communities, we need to break the silence and violence to provide support for victims, to encourage accountability for acts of harm and to support our communities in their ability to provide education, prevention and healing.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Peter: I rise on behalf of the official opposition in tribute to Women Abuse Prevention Month. November is set aside to focus on this issue. The statistics for abuse of women is alarming. Women are six times more likely to report being sexually assaulted than men, and five times more likely than men to require medical attention as a result of an assault. Apart from physical abuse, women experience far higher rates of emotional abuse than men. They are four times more likely to report being threatened and four times more likely to report being denied access to family income.
As an aboriginal woman, I am dismayed to see that aboriginal women in Canada are three times more likely to have experienced spousal violence than non-aboriginal women.
As a mother, I am very concerned about the rates of family violence as it pertains to the negative effect it has on children. The rate of abuse of women in small communities brings into question the access that our women and families have to resources that are available to women in larger communities. Most cases of abuse of women do not get reported to the police. That fact raises the question of how we are providing security to abused women so that they feel comfortable in reporting criminal offences.
We pay tribute today to all the hardworking, dedicated people working on the delicate issue of abuse: victim services, the family violence prevention unit, the Canadian Red Cross, which educates on all aspects of abuse, and of course all the transition home workers who face this on a daily basis. We trust that the recent announcement of the $100,000 to the Womenís Directorate in support of programs against abuse of aboriginal women will target local community prevention programs and make a positive impact at the grassroots level.
Our party has worked with women to help build healthier communities by introducing the Family Violence Prevention Act, which offers options for women outside the criminal justice system.
The Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre is coordinating events to educate the public during Women Abuse Prevention Month. Through several events they are focusing on the positive theme of building healthier relationships. They will be sponsoring entertainment to encourage healthy relationships, a lady beware workshop and a coupleís workshop.
Mr. Speaker, let us remember that we are role models for the next generation. If we make a difference now, then there is hope for abused women in the future.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mrs. Peter:Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to ask all members of this House to make welcome Caitlin Kerwin in the gallery with us today. Ms. Kerwin is program coordinator at the Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre and is coordinating the events for this week.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you, and welcome, Caitlin.
November is Women Abuse Prevention Month. On behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus, I rise in the Legislature to pay tribute to the volunteers and staff of the transition homes and shelters throughout the Yukon, those individuals, such as those who work in the family violence prevention unit, Victoria Faulkner Womenís Centre, nursing stations, the individuals who every day struggle to prevent and eliminate abuse against women.
Abuse can take many different forms: physical, emotional, mental and verbal. It all hurts, Mr. Speaker, and it cannot be tolerated in our society that struggles to be just and fair. There are too many incidents on our nightly news and on our playgrounds where we bear witness to violence and forms of abuse against individuals of all ages. Individually and collectively, we must take a stand against violence, whenever and wherever it occurs.
Today, we as legislators reaffirm our commitment to the prevention and, one day we hope, the elimination of violence and abuse against women.
Speaker: Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Hart:I would like to introduce the grade 11 social studies class from F.H. Collins and their teacher, Paul Deuling.
Mrs. Peter: I would just like to ask the House to please help me make welcome Dale Kafwi. Heís a high school student and heís from my riding.
Speaker: Any other introduction of visitors?
Are there returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 7: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Fentie:I move that Bill No. 7, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 7, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 7 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills for introduction?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Cathers: I rise to give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse to provide yearly funding to the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter to support the role it plays in saving the lives of animals and reducing risk to humans from loose dogs roaming the streets of Whitehorse.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to follow through on their campaign platform commitment to establish an all-party standing committee composed of representatives of all three political parties to oversee the selection of the new chair of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Arntzen: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to work cooperatively with the Kwanlin Dun and Ta'an Kwach'an First Nations, the City of Whitehorse and their citizens to avail itself of Government of Canadaís infrastructure funding, specifically as it pertains to waterfront development in Whitehorse.
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to provide funding for the upgrading of Yukon schools as needed, including upgrading the cafeteria of Porter Creek Secondary School and constructing a new school in Carmacks.
Mr. Hassard: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to develop a priority list for the upgrading of Yukon highways, including developing a plan for the reconstruction and upgrading of the Campbell Highway.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
Speaker:Before we proceed with Question Period, the Chair will deliver a ruling on a point of order raised yesterday by the leader of the third party regarding the tabling of documents.
At that time the leader of the third party argued that since the leader of the official opposition was reading from a document, that document should be tabled.
The point of order raised two issues: first, whether the action of the leader of the official opposition constituted quoting from the document such that the document should be tabled. The second issue is whether the document should be tabled even if the leader of the official opposition was quoting from it.
As far as the Chair can determine, the leader of the official opposition was reading a cover page or an inside cover page that contained the name of the document and a release date. It appears that the leader of the official opposition was merely identifying the document and not quoting from it in any substantial way.
As to the second issue, the practice of the Yukon Legislative Assembly is that members quoting from private correspondence are required to table that correspondence if so requested by another member of the House. This is required so that all members participating in debate may have access to documents relevant to that debate. It is the Chairís understanding that in this case members on both sides of the House were already in possession of the document identified by the leader of the official opposition. The Chair must rule therefore that the action of the leader of the official opposition does not constitute a substantial quotation of the document as it was already available to members. There is no reason for the Chair to order that it be tabled.
We will now proceed with Question Period.
Question re: Motor vehicle impoundment
Mrs. Peter:I have a question for the Minister of Justice, and I hope she will not adopt the same patronizing tone she used yesterday.
I am quite familiar with the ministerís authority under Section 243(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act. It does not say the minister shall release a vehicle if she believes it was wrongfully impounded, as the minister suggested yesterday. It says she may release it. The choice was hers.
Why did the minister make the choice she made? In other words, what made this impoundment wrong in the ministerís mind?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I certainly do my utmost to convey my points, certainly not in a condescending manner, but a perfectly professional manner, and I will do my utmost to do the same today as well.
With respect to the Capital Towing matter, again, I acted in strict accordance with the law, which permits the Minister of Justice to make a ruling as to whether or not a vehicle has been wrongfully impounded. Again, I will say that, based on the legal case that was presented to our departmentís senior legal counsel, I made my decision.
Mrs. Peter: That is not an answer. The Yukon people demand an answer from this minister. Under Section 238(10) of the act, if a vehicle is impounded because a driver has a blood alcohol level reading more than 160 milligrams per millilitre of blood, the impoundment period is supposed to be doubled. Yet here we have a commercial driver hired by someone and dispatched by someone to drive a lethal weapon ó a tow truck. When the police nailed him, his blood alcohol reading was 220 milligrams per millilitre. That is three times the legal limit.
Why did the minister decide, all on her own, that the owner of this vehicle had no responsibility for letting a falling-down drunk drive it for commercial reasons?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Let me be very clear here. Again, I would just like to put on the record that I am very opposed to drunk driving. Our government is vehemently opposed to drunk driving. Drunk driving is a criminal offence and should be treated as such.
The individual the member opposite refers to is serving his time behind bars. He received a four-month sentence, as I understand. He is doing his time and should be treated as such. He did a criminal offence and will be treated as such, as behind the bars.
With respect to my decision, again, it had nothing to do with the early release of impoundment provisions, as provided in the Motor Vehicles Act, something that only the review officer has the jurisdiction over. I only have the jurisdiction to determine whether or not a vehicle has been wrongfully impounded. That is it. It had nothing to do with the blood level count of that individual behind the wheel.
Mrs. Peter: This is the same minister yesterday who spoke about the evils of drunk driving during the introduction of visitors. I still wonder if this Minister of Justice would still condone this kind of behaviour.
Will the minister give her assurance that any amendments that she brings forward to the Motor Vehicles Act do not let commercial vehicle owners off the hook for the actions of the drivers they hire?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Again, I am very crystal clear about this matter. I am opposed to drunk driving. Our government is very much opposed to drunk driving here. With respect to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, when I had the opportunity to introduce the president of MADD, I did so with sincerity very much in my words. In fact, I attended the Crime Prevention banquet awards last night and I also took part in the kickoff launch of the MADD chapter here in the Yukon, which we are very pleased about, and our government is very proud to be able to work with that important body here in the territory to try to do better to make our highways much safer in the territory.
Question re: Computer use investigation
Mr. Hardy: I have a question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission about some rather remarkable answers he gave in the House last Thursday.
The minister admitted that the governmentís computer use investigation had spiralled out of control, and we all agree on that. Where the answer becomes remarkable is with the suggestion that the official opposition, or some other dark, mysterious forces, caused this to happen.
When the minister realized the process was starting to spiral out of control, what did he do about it? What instructions did he give the Public Service Commission or what help did he seek from the Premier?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for giving me the opportunity today to clarify something that he appeared to have a misunderstanding of.
When we talk about anything spiralling out of control, I would like to qualify our governmentís position with regard to this issue.
We talk about the Public Service Commission. Today I want to clarify that the Public Service Commission did, at all times, maintain control over this issue. Again, I will repeat what I said last week with regard to the opposition, and that was that it is my own opinion that the opposition quite possibly had a lot to do with anything going out of control.
Mr. Hardy: Itís quite shocking that the minister will not take responsibility for his own actions. Instead, he passes it over on to other people who have absolutely nothing to do with this investigation.
If anything, weíve asked this investigation to be called off, and yet he blames us. This whole line of questions and non-answers is a stunning display of the buck-passing of this minister, Mr. Speaker. At some point, the Public Service Commissioner or the deputy ministers or some combination of the above must have told the minister or the Premier or some combination of the above that there was a problem with the computer use investigation.
Is the minister asking us to believe that the only political response was to hand the deputy ministers and the Public Service Commission a blank cheque and say, "Oh, well, do whatever you think is best, just donít involve us," as he mentioned earlier. Is that what the minister is actually saying, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I guess the members opposite can make determinations of this process in whatever manner they choose. I view this as merely a difference of opinion. The members opposite know very well that they had lots to do with the misuse of the computers and how it was spun through the media. Mr. Speaker, I still say that the Public Service Commission did a very good job of maintaining confidentiality and keeping this misuse of computer investigation in control at all times.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Hardy: Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House will stand up for working people of this territory when theyíre attacked by their employers. In this case, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what has happened here. This minister and this Premier have decided to attack their very own employees, and we have spoken on behalf of those employees because we feel this investigation is wrong. At some point, this runaway investigation, which nobody across the floor has anything to do with, was such a hot topic of discussion that people across Canada were laughing about it. It was on national news. But it isnít a laughing matter, Mr. Speaker. Hundreds of government workers were being forced to live in a climate of fear, intimidation and public ridicule. Government MLAs were getting clobbered by their own constituents, as theyíve admitted when theyíve gone door to door. When the minister realized the impact this was having, what direction did he give to fix the process or at least try to limit the damage this investigation was causing?
And, Mr. Speaker, could you ensure that the minister does answer that question?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: There appears to be a rise in blood pressure across the floor here, but I have to continue to say that this whole issue is a personnel matter and it is not a political matter.
I would like to state today ó and let there be no mistake ó this government respects all employees. Mr. Speaker, we have sympathy for the employees who were involved with this investigation. We have sympathy for the families that were affected, and we have sympathy for all of the employees who were not involved with this investigation. If the opposition continues to paint all employees with the same brush, thatís their choice.
Question re: Motor vehicle impoundment
Ms. Duncan:The government has shown, over and over in their first year in office, a lack of integrity. The fall session started with the Minister of Environment refusing to make public letters he has written to the Yukon Conflicts Commissioner. Yesterday, the MLA for Klondike said he is content to owe Yukoners more than $200,000. Iíd like to give the Minister of Justice an opportunity today to repair some of the damage that has been done in the last 12 months.
The minister initially said that she made her decision to release a tow truck this summer based on information from the RCMP. She said, publicly, that if the officer who impounded the tow truck had known he had the discretion not to lock it up, he wouldnít have. Can the minister provide any proof of her earlier statements? In other words, does she have a letter from the RCMP confirming her view that the officer made a mistake?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Again, I will be very clear on this matter. Just for the record, I certainly acted in very strict accordance with the law, which permits the Minister of Justice to release a vehicle that has been impounded if in fact that vehicle has been found to be wrongfully impounded. Again, based on the information that was presented to our office, through a legal case presented to our senior legal counsel, that is what I made my decision on.
Ms. Duncan: The minister had a choice this summer. She could have come down on the side of public safety or the side of the drunk driver. She chose the drunk driver. At a news conference this summer, the minister tried to explain this fiasco. She admitted that there was in fact no letter from the RCMP to back up her earlier statements. An officer had offered to write one but apparently never did.
Why did the minister start out explaining this fiasco in the public, claiming there was a letter when in fact there wasnít?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: A number of things occurred over the course of this summer. And I have to again say that the legal case was made to us that referred to a member of the RCMP making the case that if, in fact, that member had known of their discretionary power, they would have notified the owner prior to making a further decision. That is what we based our case on. I have been very open about this matter.
The RCMP, as well, has been on board with us from the very start here.
I have to say that there have been a number of confusing points that have been made. I donít know whether it has been on the part of the media or whether it has been on my part, but I certainly apologize for any confusion that was made. Certainly I feel very comfortable in making my decision. I made the decision. We are now moving forward.
Ms. Duncan: It was quite a summer with the minister overruling justices of the peace. We had the Premier publicly attacking the same justice of the peace. It was nothing short of another national embarrassment.
While the minister was busy with these letters ó maybe there are; maybe there arenít ó she was ignoring real advice from government officials. In a July 22, 2003, e-mail that was published, the acting head of transportation from the Department of Highways and Public Works said, "I came to the same conclusion you did. I called the owner of the tow truck company back and advised him that he needed to deal with the justice system on the issue, as there was nothing that could be done in terms of altering the legislation or regulations."
Mr. Speaker, the ministerís officials clearly said, "Donít interfere. Thereís nothing we can do." But what did the minister do? She went ahead and interfered anyway. Before this case, no minister had ever dealt with an impoundment release application. Why did the minister ignore the advice from her own officials? Why did she do that?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Again, when the application was made ó and I have to say that the application was made to our office and, within the room with me on the day that application was made, we had our senior legal counsel there. We had our assistant deputy minister from the Department of Justice there, as well. We had a number of officials, so the decision was based on the legal advice that we had received.
Question re: Dawson City supervisor position
Mr. Cardiff:I have a question today for the Minister of Community Services about the duties of the new supervisor of Dawson City. The ministerís letter of instructions requires the new supervisor to meet with the mayor and the council to establish a protocol to ensure compliance with these instructions. It also spells out the ministerís expectation that the supervisor will establish a respectful relationship with the council.
Is the minister satisfied that these two conditions of his letter have been met?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, we are in negotiation with the mayor and his council, and a meeting is being prearranged for them to meet with a new supervisor later on this month.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, I asked the minister to table this letter yesterday, but I guess he didnít hear me. Instead, we got a reply from a different minister that was complete nonsense. Since the minister hasnít tabled the letter, Iíll do that now.
This letter expands the supervisorís role significantly. It gives him the authority under section 335.(4) of the act to withhold approval of any bylaws respecting the program of the city until he is in agreement with those bylaws. Does the minister believe Dawson is in some sort of crisis, or is there some other reason that he has chosen to give someone, who doesnít even live in the Yukon, power and authority over the democratically elected city council and Mayor of Dawson.
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are investigating our relationship with the City of Dawson, and we feel we need a close view of whatís happening in that particular municipality. I think we need it for the protection of not only ourselves; we need it for the protection of the taxpayers of Dawson City.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, if the City of Dawson is facing some kind of financial meltdown that requires draconian measures, then it would be nice if we were informed about it and the public was informed about it. We have a right to know why the minister has this perception and who might be influencing the ministerís perception.
Let me ask the minister this question, and hopefully weíll get an answer that makes sense: how much of Dawson Cityís current financial situation can be attributed directly to the fact that this government has refused to pay something in excess of $1 million that it owes the City of Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, I donít know where he is getting his numbers from. Maybe he can table them for us or get a letter over to me to provide precisely where he comes up with $1 million that are owing.
Question re: Dawson City supervisor position
Mr. Cardiff: Maybe he should read the City of Dawsonís financial plan.
The previous supervisor was hired under the Liberal government to help the City of Dawson develop a multi-year financial plan and to monitor the implementation of that plan. Will the minister confirm that such a plan had been developed, that it had been accepted and that it was being implemented and monitored according to the instructions given to the previous supervisor, at least until September 29 of this year?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are in possession of the cityís financial plan, as the member opposite indicated, and we are looking at that particular aspect to see where we actually sit with regard to Dawson City. The new supervisor is checking that particular aspect out and is going to give us a report on where we stand.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, we may have to go somewhere else here.
Mr. Speaker, a former Mayor of Dawson City sits at the same Cabinet table as this minister. The person from Rossland, B.C., whom the Cabinet appointed to supervise Dawsonís affairs, was the town manager of the City of Dawson when the ministerís Cabinet colleague was the mayor. He later became the executive director of the Association of Yukon Communities when the ministerís colleague was the Mayor of Dawson.
Was the Minister of Health and Social Services present when the Cabinet passed Order-in-Council 2003/253, which was signed by the Commissioner on October 3?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The answer is no.
Mr. Cardiff: We finally got a straight answer, I think. The Minister of Health and Social Services is also the MLA for Klondike. He and the current mayor have had a long-standing and very public political rivalry. What comments, requests or suggestions has the minister received from the MLA for Klondike during the last 11 months with respect to the financial administration of the City of Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I received no interference from the MLA for Klondike. Any discussions Iíve had with regard to the City of Dawson have been with my other members of Cabinet, as thereís a perception of obvious conflict with the Member for Klondike.
Question re: Computer use investigation
Mr. Hardy:I have a question for the Premier, and itís about where the buck stops. The minister responsible for the Public Service Commission has served up some incredible answers on the computer use investigation. Apparently, employees from outside Whitehorse chose to be disciplined. Apparently, the Minister of Health is no longer concerned with how the health care system operates or is affected by this investigation. Apparently, services to rural Yukon, and even supervision of Dawson Cityís finances, are all personnel issues that canít be discussed in this Chamber, as I said earlier.
Does the Premier agree with the minister that this investigation was allowed to spiral out of control, and can he tell us why he allowed it to happen?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Again, I would like to state for the record, Mr. Speaker, that due to the confidentiality of this whole investigation, this government is not aware of the particular individuals who may have been involved from outside communities.
Mr. Hardy: I agree with the confidentiality; it seems to be run by secret police over there. The minister responsible for the Public Service Commission has no authority over the deputy ministers; only the Premier has that authority.
What directions did the Premier give his deputy ministers about the principles and standards that must be upheld during the governmentís investigation about computer use? And thatís not a personnel issue.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Again, I will state for the record that the deputy ministers had an obligation, along with the Public Service Commission, to conduct a thorough investigation, and one that constitutes fairness right across the board.
Mr. Hardy: The Premier can run but he canít hide; heís in the Legislature. It soon became obvious that the process being used had many, many flaws in it. People were being hurt unnecessarily, Mr. Speaker.
The governmentís image has been tarnished. The Yukonís image was tarnished, as we said earlier. Legitimate questions were being asked about the fairness of the process and about whether it was being applied equally across the board.
Did the Premier express any concerns to his deputies or to the Public Service Commission about the progress of this investigation, or did he relinquish his authority as the Yukonís top elected official to others who are not accountable to the Yukon people?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: This minister is the one responsible for the Public Service Commission, and I was briefed by the Public Service Commission on the progress of the investigation, Mr. Speaker. Again I will state for the record that this government has always been very concerned about all of the employees and the effect that this would have on them.
Mr. Speaker, we have the utmost respect for all employees in this government. The members opposite have their opinions about how things went but, as minister, I feel very comfortable stating in the House that the Public Service Commission did maintain control over this issue.
Question re: Mayo-Dawson transmission line, cost overrun
Mr. McRobb:Mr. Speaker, Iím at a bit of a loss, here. My question is for the Energy minister. We were told by the government House leader he would be here today. I sent a note over at the beginning of Question Period.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Point of order
Speaker:Point of order. Government House leader.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, but we canít recognize that a member isnít present here in the House, and Iíd ask the member opposite to respect the rules of this Chamber.
Speaker:The member does have a point of order. Carry on with your question, please.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, I understood that I would have available the minister to ask a question. I didnít say the minister was absent, but I will ask the question and weíll see who answers it. Howís that? Thatís my comment on the point of order.
Speaker: All right. Does anybody have a question, here?
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, if I may, that was my comment on the point of order. Iím waiting for you to rule on the point of order so I may resume my question.
Speaker: There is no point of order. Carry on please.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, thereís a time for briefings to end and a time for accountability to start. That means this government and the minister must answer questions. Today we learned about a major cost overrun. Some $9 million and counting on the Mayo-to-Dawson transmission line. Thatís an overrun of some one-third of the total project cost.
Now the minister has pre-empted this disclosure by shuffling it to the Auditor General for review, but thatís not good enough. This matter needs to be dealt with by the public watchdog responsible for overseeing the affairs of the utilities, and it needs to involve local stakeholders who are familiar with these issues and who have the local knowledge. Will the minister now agree to request an investigation into this matter by the Yukon Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: It is fair to say in this particular issue that the decision by the board of directors, in consultation with the minister, is the correct decision ó requesting the Auditor General look into this matter is obviously the most prudent step and course of action to be taken. Let us not forget that this government inherited this issue ó a project approved by the members opposite ó and, upon taking office, recognized the situation that this project may have been in. The minister has done his due diligence and that due diligence has resulted in what has happened recently in the request that the Auditor General look thoroughly ó and I say thoroughly ó into this very serious matter.
Mr. McRobb: Thatís no solution. The Auditor General doesnít have the local knowledge. The Yukon Utilities Board is the watchdog. It is the proper tribunal to involve an investigation into this matter. For the Premierís information, his own party requested that it engage the Yukon Utilities Board to hold a general rate application within one year of its resolution that was approved back in May. So we have an opportunity and we have a process set up. This is clearly better dealt with for Yukoners by the public watchdog. Furthermore, the Public Accounts Committee, chaired by our leader, will be investigating the Crown corporations and will have the Auditor General by its side this winter. This is clearly nothing new.
Again, will this government request an investigation through the Yukon Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: For the benefit of the member opposite, this is not about a rate application. This is not about rates in the Yukon Territory. This is about a serious situation in regard to a design/build contract of a major project, a major undertaking in this territory by the Energy Corporation, which is in the cost range of millions of dollars. The prudent course has been taken by the minister. From discussions with the chair and the board, the correct decision has been made. The Auditor General is going to look into this matter thoroughly so that the Yukon Utilities Board and Yukoners, this House and anybody concerned, can make an informed judgement on what has taken place here.
Mr. McRobb: Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the Premier is unaware that itís possible to have a combined hearing. Thereís an opportunity for cost savings by including a second reason for calling the Yukon Utilities Board to hold a public hearing involving local stakeholders, and that is to investigate the huge cost overrun on this project.
Now, I would like to know, before this government announces any more major energy projects, will it hold off until we have the opportunity to properly assess the findings out of a review and investigation by the Yukon Utilities Board? Will it do that for the sake of Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Let me point out, for the sake of Yukoners, it was this party that clearly articulated to the Yukon public the perils of this project, commenced by the official opposition when in government, and consummated by the third party. It was this party that clearly showed that this was going to be a serious problem.
So the minister has taken the prudent course, and that course requires that this project be clearly audited thoroughly. It is about cost ó the millions of dollars of cost that have been incurred by this project, which should not have been incurred. Thatís why the Auditor General is involved, and thatís what an informed decision can be made from.
For the memberís benefit, we of course reserve any option that would regard energy and projects and the relationship to the Yukon Utilities Board and Yukoners, but I want to say clearly that, in this case, the correct action has been taken; the minister has done his job, and we await the Auditor Generalís findings.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. The official opposition House leader.
Notice of opposition private membersí business
Mr. McRobb:Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), Iíd like to identify the items standing in the name of the official opposition to be called on Wednesday, November 5, 2003. They are Motion No. 54, standing in the name of the Member for Whitehorse Centre, and Motion No. 103, also standing in the name of the member for Whitehorse Centre.
Ms. Duncan: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, November 5, 2003. They are Motion No. 109 and Motion No. 107.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Clerk:Motion No. 101, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Jenkins.
Motion No. 101
Speaker:It is moved by the government House leader
THAT this House will stand adjourned from its rising on Thursday, November 6, 2003, until 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 12, 2003; and
THAT this House shall meet at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, November 14, 2003, with 6:00 p.m. as the normal hour of adjournment.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, looking back in history, it was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the Great War, the war to end all wars, ceased. That was Armistice Day. That has come down in history as a day where we pause and reflect on those who served the cause of democracy, those who gave up much of their lives and, indeed, their lives, serving the cause.
And well we should remember the commitment many have made for Canada. On November 11 of each year we pause, Mr. Speaker, for two minutes of silence after we assemble in our respective communities, and we remember those.
Mr. Speaker, the essence of this motion is to allow members of this Legislature to take the Monday of the week ó and Remembrance Day of this year falls on a Tuesday ó and to move our sitting day to the Friday of that week. Thatís what would appear to be the most logical and forward-thinking way of proceeding with the business of the people of the Yukon.
Not only will it allow members in this House to return to their respective ridings and participate in the recognition of Remembrance Day, it will save the government some money in that there wonít be a lot of additional travel.
Now I recognize that, if you are a member from Whitehorse, itís easy not to look in the rural ridings, Mr. Speaker. But if we look at most of the rural members who commute to Whitehorse on Sunday, we sit the Monday, after the House rises at 6 p.m., we return back to our respective ridings, arriving there at approximately midnight. We have the next day where we join with the citizens, our constituents, and veterans.
In my riding, Remembrance Day is a major day of recognition. And I, as a rural MLA, have participated in those ceremonies for quite some time. I want to be allowed the opportunity to continue to do so. I believe itís only just and fair that we be allowed that opportunity to take the Monday and place it at the end of the week and sit on the Friday. The cost that we will incur as a government for rural MLAs to go back and forth will be saved. We will be allowed the opportunity to partake in the Remembrance Day ceremonies and, at the same time, continue with the business of the people in this Legislature.
I know there has been a suggestion from the opposition that we move further into December for the sitting of this House, but I believe the essence is captured here in doing the business of the people in a timely manner, in the most cost-effective manner, Mr. Speaker. Thatís what Iím advocating.
Yesterday I also tabled a motion on the same venue urging the federal Government of Canada to recognize our Yukon aboriginal veterans and to provide those veterans when they return to the Yukon with the same benefits that they would have received had they returned to reserves in other parts of Canada. That captures where we are at.
Remembrance Day is a day of remembrance. We want to move forward on this initiative. We have no other speakers whom our side will be putting up, and I believe itís in the best interest of all of us if we give careful consideration to this motion and move forward.
Many famous Canadians have come down in history. "In Flanders Fields, where poppies blow" ó it was a Canadian who wrote that. It was a Canadian who was sickened by what he had seen in war, and we proudly ó all members of this Legislature ó display a poppy just over our hearts in recognition of Remembrance Day. That says a lot for the recognition that this day has and for what it does.
When we look at the number of Canadian war dead in the First World War, and we look at the number of Canadian war dead in the Second World War, and in my community of Dawson, thereís a cenotaph with a listing. Those who gave up their lives in the war of 1914-18 outnumber those who gave up their lives in the war of 1939-45, the Second World War. Our population back then was quite large, and they took up the cause and the challenge of protecting democracy. They did so with a lot of involvement of their own dollars, Mr. Speaker, and they walked hand in hand.
If we look to our neighbours to the south, Memorial Day is what they call November 11th, but it holds the same significance, and it is also a national holiday.
Steps are being taken in many areas to accommodate that day and recognize it and give that day the recognition it so demands and deserves.
If we look at some of the other writers of the time and the memories they have encapsulated in poem and limerick, it only allows us to recognize that war is bad. But, every now and then, it becomes necessary. I donít think youíll find anyone here who says that war is good. But when it comes to serving the cause and protecting democracy, Canadians come to the plate first.
This motion that we have on the floor here today for debate, what it does is allow MLAs an opportunity, at a reduced cost to the government, to participate in Remembrance Day services in their respective ridings.
I would encourage the members opposite to give careful consideration to the benefits and support this motion. It is a good motion and, as I said earlier, it will allow us to recognize Remembrance Day for what it is.
Mr. McRobb: What we heard there from the government House leader really deserves some clarification. The issue is not about respect for our veterans, Mr. Speaker. Everyone in this Legislature respects our veterans. I know of no one who doesnít. That is not the issue here.
The issue here is about the government House leaderís inability to work with the opposition parties to develop a consensus about which day we should be working. I will be exploring that a little further on, Mr. Speaker.
There are also a few other issues we need to explore. Listening to the government House leader, one would think there are great savings to be had by working the Friday rather than the Monday. Letís explore that for a minute, Mr. Speaker, but before we do, I would suggest that if he is so concerned about saving the government some money, maybe he should repay his outstanding loans. But aside from that, Iíve canvassed our caucus and nobody was planning to return to their community homes that particular weekend anyway. So there are no saved trips on this side.
I think we have a case here where the government House leader acted alone in his own interest, nobody elseís. It is clear. Iíve consulted the leader of the third party, and our positions regarding working on November 10 were consistent, and that is that we should all be here working on Monday, November 10. Thereís no need to defer that working day to any other date on the calendar.
Mr. Speaker, this Legislature is the opportunity for the opposition to hold the government accountable. Itís not the opportunity for the government to arrange when the Legislature sits to be the most convenient to its own members. Mr. Speaker, nobody should ever have that kind of luxury, but it seems thatís what the government House leader is now imposing on us through a government motion that is sure to receive more votes on that side than on this side simply because they outnumber us. Thatís clear to see. So we have a case where the government is using its majority to force through this Legislature a government motion on when the Legislature should sit.
Now, we had a case where the government House leader consulted the opposition House leaders and caucuses about the date, and we were unanimous in our decision that we should work Monday, November 10. Then the government came back to us by saying, no, weíre going to hold the Legislature on Friday, November 14, instead.
Well, Mr. Speaker, why did the government even bother to ask us what it is we wanted in that case, if it already had the decision predetermined? This strongly resembles the very way it consults the Yukon public on issues, Mr. Speaker. It has the decision it wants already predetermined and, no matter what it hears, itís going to stick with that decision. And this is a classic case of that in action ó clear for everybody to see.
The government House leader said that this approach is the most logical and forward-thinking. Those were his own words: "logical and forward-thinking". Well, in his own mind it very well may be.
We on this side believe that if this was such a big issue to this government that it wanted to make a long weekend out of Remembrance Day ó a four-day weekend at that ó then it should have resumed the Legislature a day earlier than it did. It should have opened this House on October 29. That would have allowed two days to be allocated for Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day, both statutory holidays, and allowed this sitting to wrap up on Thursday, December 11, which is the target date for completion.
Instead, similar to its inconsistent approach on just about anything, it calls the Legislature in with no flexibility on the front end and no willingness to be flexible at the back end. Instead, it is forcing us to sit on a day that we need to conduct other business.
I want to get to that, because Iím not sure if the government House leader even knows how it is. But we on this side work on Fridays. We have our weekly caucus meeting and other meetings, possibly briefings and so on. We are required to be here. That is our set day of the week to conduct those types of duties. There is no opportunity to cancel those duties without losing them.
Now itís fine for the government to, all of a sudden, change that, in its unilateral decision that completely disregarded the positions it heard from both opposition parties. Thatís all fine, and itís going to use its majority to drive that home; we know that. But we are not going to go down without putting our views on record and our positions on record that this government ó one year after being elected ó is violating its own promises to the Yukon people to better work with opposition MLAs for the benefit of the Yukon, to try to reduce the animosity in the Legislature by consulting with opposition MLAs in a decision-making process.
Well, what a farce that has turned out to be. You know, doing the motions for tabling at the beginning of todayís proceedings, the leader of the third party raised the issue of the all-party standing committee. Thatís another one of those issues this government promised to introduce if elected ó well, here we are, one year to the date, Mr. Speaker, and still no all-party committees on anything.
That reminds me of the SCREP issues that have still yet to become known. The Premierís former position was to equalize the membership on that committee. Now, because it has the majority in government, it wants to retain the majority on that committee. Well, again, here we go, one year later, Mr. Speaker, this government has failed on that undertaking. Instead, itís taking an approach that disrespects the views of members on this side of the House. And for what? So the Member for Klondike can make a four-day weekend out of Remembrance Day.
Well, Mr. Speaker, thatís not fair. There are 18 members in this Legislature, not just the Member for Klondike. In the past, Remembrance Day would come any day of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And whatever day it was, each MLA was responsible to attend services in his or her ridings, and that has been done. We donít need three days preceding that in order to perform that function. If the government House leader is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being on the government side, well, Mr. Speaker, maybe he should rethink his position over there and rethink his bid to take over the leadership of the party.
Because I think itís quite evident he is overwhelmed by his responsibilities so far, and his performance indicates he is failing at those responsibilities ó and failing miserably. So why would he deserve additional burden, Mr. Speaker? It just doesnít add up. And it certainly isnít the most logical and forward-thinking in anyoneís mind.
On Remembrance Day, many of us travel to our communities and attend services. I plan to drive to Haines Junction on Tuesday morning as I normally do and be there for the service and then return to town where Iíll resume work-related functions in preparation for the next day. There is no reason, Mr. Speaker, why anyone on that side canít follow the same routine.
Itís rather simple. If they need some help planning their logistics, Iíll volunteer. Itís not very difficult. Thereís no need to turn Remembrance Day into a four-day holiday. As a matter of fact, any veterans Iíve talked to have found it rather disrespectful that anyone would propose rolling in their day of service and respect into a weekend and another day to make it a four-day holiday. Thatís disrespectful. Remembrance Day deserves to be a stand-alone, statutory holiday, and no matter what day of the week it falls on, Mr. Speaker, all members are required to work in this Legislature.
What about the public service? What about everybody else who may like the same convenience as the Member for Klondike wants to have, and the Member for Watson Lake? I donít think thereís anybody else this really benefits, other than those two.
Well, when they swore the oath less than a year ago, they swore an oath to function in the interests of the Yukon public, not to try to make their travel schedules a little easier by placing a burden on everybody else, by slipping themselves more benefits than the public service has by trying to change the rules of this Legislature and by depriving the opposition parties of an important day they require to function properly and prepare for the week ahead. This motion is absolutely ludicrous. It is not a good motion. If anybody is left in doubt, we on this side certainly wonít be supporting it.
There are other factors as well. We know the proceedings each day. The first hour generally is televised on the Aboriginal Peopleís Network, and this requires a change in scheduling. It also requires a change in the viewersí habits. Will the proceedings from that day now be competing against other programming on a Friday night, or other things a person wants to do on a Friday evening? Well, it would have to, Mr. Speaker, it would have to.
From the governmentís perspective, the fewer people who watch Question Period on television, the better off it is, especially after the abysmal performance viewers have watched to date of the answers ó supposed answers ó given in Question Period.
The personal schedules of that government House leader and the Premier should not be dictating the legislative agenda. And Iím sure weíll be hearing that message from the leader of the third party when she speaks next.
Mr. Speaker, we on this side would prefer to work on the Monday, but we are also prepared to work an additional day, be it Monday, December 15, if necessary. But either of those options is far better to us than losing our normal business slated for the Friday. And the government should be open to this type of input from the opposition. We told it during the normal course of discussions with the government House leader, and Iíve already reviewed that history, where he came back and his decision reflected nothing of what he heard from the official opposition, nor the third party. It reflected his own personal agenda. Well, Mr. Speaker, thatís not right. That is absolutely not right. So in that vein, Mr. Speaker, I would like to table an amendment to this motion.
Mr. McRobb: All right, Mr. Speaker. Iím prepared to read the amendment to Motion No. 101. It is moved
THAT Motion No. 101 be amended by replacing the final paragraph with the following: "THAT this House shall meet at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 15, 2003, with 6:00 p.m. as the normal hour of adjournment."
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Member for Kluane
THAT Motion No. 101 be amended by replacing the final paragraph with the following: "THAT this House shall meet at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 15, 2003 with 6:00 p.m. as the normal hour of adjournment."
Mr. McRobb: I understand I have 20 minutes available. Well, Iíll inform the House that I wonít be taking anything close to that length of time. I think most of the points have already been covered. But I will speak to the issue of Monday, December 15 as the date selected for replacing November 10. Now, off the top, Mr. Speaker, one would acknowledge that date is relatively close to the Christmas holiday. However, many other people work right up to Christmas Day, and some even on Christmas Day for that matter, so this should not be an issue to people in this Legislature.
I recall previous sittings going on as far as I believe it was December 15. If I recall correctly, I think it was the evening of December 14, possibly 1996 or 1997, that went all night long, until about 6:30 a.m. the next day. So, Mr. Speaker, this would not be breaking new ground in terms of dates.
I also seem to recall previous sittings before the time I was directly involved that went a lot closer to Christmas, adjourned and then resumed in January.
So there are lots of precedents for this. If the government side insists that it must replace November 10, that it absolutely needs a holiday on November 10, then we suggest it should be on December 15, not on Friday, November 14 when we have other important business scheduled for the day, Mr. Speaker. That makes sense. Itís also reasonable to suggest that if the government had a problem with this day, then it should have convened the Legislature a day earlier. I think we can acknowledge thatís a sensible conclusion as well.
So where do we go from here? Are they going to simply outgun us with its numbers, or are we going to come to a sensible conclusion and one we can agree with? Well, I guess weíll find out soon enough when it comes time to vote because, as the government House leader said, they wonít be putting any more speakers up to this motion.
One of my colleagues reminded me that this suggestion, although itís reasonable and most people can agree with it, might conflict with the travel plans of certain members of the government side who are known to travel to Hawaii and other exotic destinations over the Christmas break.
I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that they should put their personal travel plans in the back seat and put the publicís business in the front seat. That is the proper way to deal with this.
Thatís consistent with the oath they swore just a year ago, and it would be more consistent with working together with all MLAs in the Legislature.
I would further suggest that, in future, to avoid any recurrence of this type of scheduling problem, the government House leader approach his respective House leaders in the opposition parties to work out these matters ahead of time so that we donít waste time in this Legislature debating these matters when we could be reviewing more important matters, such as finally getting to this governmentís supplementary budget. As you know, Mr. Chair, that budget has been embargoed for how many days? More than five days ó itís coming up to five and a half days of this unprecedented embargo. We could be debating it now, rather than this motion, had the Yukon Party been a little more open-minded and fair in its approach about scheduling another day off.
Now, some people have suggested that in favour of taking Monday off ó you know, the government side does need a four-day holiday to recuperate after the pressure it has been under in Question Period, but I would remind all members that we are only into day three. We have another three weeks to go. So letís try to pace ourselves a little bit. The government side should recognize that it doesnít need a four-day holiday to recover this early in the sitting. Theyíll have lots of time to do that over turkey at Christmas.
So I think our views are clear on the record, and Iíll look forward to seeing what the government side will do on this amendment, whether it is benevolent, or whether itís going to toe the hard line. And we know the power struggle may show some implications in the vote. Iím rather anxious to see what will happen. It was rather interesting to observe some of the MLAs in the past few days, and it will be rather interesting to observe them during this vote.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the amendment that has been brought forward by the Member for Kluane, itís important to examine some background to this motion and the amendment that has been brought forward. The government House leader made an early attempt to organize House business and telegraphed the governmentís desire to adjourn the Legislature on November 10. Just for membersí background, the methodology for this is for the government House leader to walk in, unannounced, unprecedented, and to announce that this is what the government intends. As per usual, thatís where any semblance of discussion or consultation ends. Thatís it.
So I indicated ó or had my staff indicate on my behalf ó to staff of the government House leader on October 21 at 10 minutes to 12:00 that the substance of the discussion, "Mr. Jenkins has indicated this morning that government is not interested in the House sitting November 10. He proposed that the missed day be made up at another time."
So my staffís response on my behalf was that I would not support not sitting on November 10. The day should be made up on December 15.
Pardon me. I would support not sitting on November 10, but the day had to be made up on December 15. I donít agree with not sitting on November 10; however, as I said, I have yet to see an opportunity where there is room for discussion with the government House leader; it is to simply announce. I had indicated my response.
The House leader said today that we must give careful consideration to this suggestion. Unfortunately, careful consideration in the House leaderís view is that we will all see his perspective and that his way is the only way.
Remembrance Day ceremonies are held at Porter Creek High, for example, and they have been noted by many veterans and many individuals as some of the best Remembrance Day ceremonies held in the Yukon. They are held at 11:00 a.m. on November 7. The fact that it is November 7 make them no less significant. In fact, they are even more significant in the overall terms, because these are young voices who are expressing their remembrance ó young voices, many of whom have no knowledge of grandparents, no contact with grandparents who may have served, or parents.
Having them on November 7 enables those young students and other Yukoners to also attend the November 11 Remembrance Day ceremonies at F.H. Collins. Those Remembrance Day ceremonies are an integral part of the Whitehorse community and the Yukon community fabric. They donít take away from ceremonies that are held elsewhere; they add to them.
The Speaker is represented at the Remembrance Day ceremonies and lays a wreath, as is the government. So the Legislature is recognized at that particular ceremony, Mr. Speaker.
The suggestion that a break on November 10 will allow MLAs, at a reduced cost, to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies in their own riding is complete and utter nonsense. Every MLA, save the MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin, who wants to be back in their riding for the November 11 ceremonies at 11 a.m. can be there when House business concludes on November 6. There is no reason why members canít be there. And should the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin wish to be back in her riding on November 11 and have to leave on November 10, Iím quite confident that there isnít one MLA in this House who would not recognize that travel factor and excuse her absence that day, should she choose.
The fact is we do not need to adjourn on November 10.
I think itís also incumbent, if weíre going to discuss this issue with the forthcoming nature with which you suggest we approach our duties, Mr. Speaker ó that is with honour, with dignity and painting the complete picture ó itís also important to note that the travel plans for the Premier are already set for this issue. Regardless of the House debate, regardless of what might happen with this motion, itís already set that thereís a meeting for the Premier on November 6, 7, and 10, outside of this Legislature.
Then after the House leaderís pronouncement to his colleagues, the other House leaders, without so much as a response or discussion, he has slipped in the motion. "My way is the only way," according to the House leader.
The issue contained in this motion is also the precedent of sitting on Friday, Mr. Speaker. This Legislature has not sat on a Friday for some years. Members of the Legislature organize their lives accordingly. I had a conversation with a constituent this morning. We made several appointments. I have made several appointments, including with that constituent, to meet on a Friday because that is the opportunity for rural members to return to their ridings and for Whitehorse members to also meet during normal business hours with their constituents. That is the standard practice, Mr. Speaker. To set a precedent of returning to Friday sittings without so much as a discussion with the balance of the House leaders shows a continued complete disrespect for this Legislature and any opinion other than the governmentís. And, Mr. Speaker, I find that reprehensible.
And itís unfortunate that we have to begin every day, it seems ó and this is only day three of the sitting ó with discussions of the manners in which the government House leader is treating the balance, not only of the House leaders but the balance of the members and this Legislature ó in short, Yukoners, Mr. Speaker ó this from a government that promised cooperation, collaboration. We have seen none of that. There has been no compromise. There has been no listening. There is no willingness on the part of the government, and particularly of the government House leader, to hear and truly listen to any opinion other than his own, and thatís unfortunate.
There are three issues with respect to this amendment and with respect to this motion. Number one is the House leaderís performance. I realize that members opposite, judging by the smiles, seem to find this humorous. It is not humorous. I take it very seriously.
It is unfortunate for the public and itís unfortunate for the members who are trying to conduct themselves as they should. We are spending valuable House time because the House leader cannot organize the House business.
We have a five-day embargoed budget. We have a Statistics Act without notice, and which the House leader refused to stand aside so that we could come back and debate it more thoroughly ó no reason. We have this motion. We have the issue of difficulty asking questions of ministers because the House leaders arenít notified. The truly sad part about all of this is that the public hears "he said/she said in the Legislature" again.
Why donít we try to work together? Why donít we try to resolve these issues? Why donít we have a discussion about this at House leadersí meetings as opposed to slipping a motion in? Why donít we have all members in the House actually listening to the points that people are trying to make?
This motion and the amendment are about the House leaderís performance. Itís about ensuring that everyone is completely forthcoming. Is the reason for not sitting on November 10 because of the budget consultation scheduled by the Premier? Well then say so; ask for it. Ask for cooperation as opposed to just announcing that this is whatís happening. If the government is truly interested in cooperation, then respect the fact that the members opposite have said, "If thatís the way you feel about November 10" ó I am inclined to believe the Member for Kluane who would state that there are veterans who would find treating November 10 as a holiday disrespectful ó "then truly listen to what the members have put forward on this side as an amendment."
Now, coincidentally, I had a very similar amendment drafted. Actually, mine just amended the motion by deleting the words "Friday, November 14 to Monday, December 15, 2003." It doesnít change the intent of the motion.
The Member for Kluane spoke before me, and he has brought forward an amendment that serves the purpose equally well. I would encourage members opposite to hear what their colleagues in the Legislature have said. There are issues with the House leader. There are very serious issues with the House leader, and if this government wants to continue for the remainder of its mandate, itís going to need some cooperation. You earn cooperation and respect, and you earn it by being respectful of others.
There are opinions other than those of the government House leader here in this House. I support the amendment. I appreciate the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to record my objection on the record as to the way this matter has been handled and would urge the Premier to very seriously consider ó and that caucus, in all sense of responsibility to the public ó to consider that that is what weíre doing here: the publicís business. And the public expects us to conduct ourselves with honour and dignity.
That being the case, letís try to have the government House leader treat his colleagues with some respect. We have not seen any to date.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: On the amendment, Iíve sat and listened to the Member for Kluane and the leader of the third party, and Iím concerned about how theyíre construing this whole issue ó or I should say "misconstruing". The leader of the third party speaks of cooperation and respect, that it is earned, but there also has to be the capability to provide cooperation and to provide respect. That has to be demonstrated also.
Yes, Iíll agree with the member of the third party that cooperation is something we all have to work on. Respect is earned. If you have to give respect in order to get respect, then you have to be capable of giving that respect. And when that is not forthcoming, everyone tends to react accordingly, such as I have done with the House leaders on some occasions, on some issues.
Letís just stand back and look at what was said just earlier on, Mr. Speaker. I pointed out that this would save the government money, and we know full well that rural MLAs are allowed 24 trips a year back to their respective ridings. As a Cabinet minister, I am allowed 12. I have to be a resident here of Whitehorse.
We know that the Member for Kluane maxes out every year on travel.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker:On a point of order, the Member for Kluane
Mr. McRobb: The government House leader is casting aspersions. We all know that he is the biggest spender when it comes to travel, and he shouldnít be fingering other members.
Speaker:The Chair would say that there is no point of order. Youíre discussing issues that are pertinent to outside this House and those are travel issues. They are not part of the purview of this Legislative Assembly. I would ask the member to carry on.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I must have touched a nerve, Mr. Speaker, in the Member for Kluane.
What this would in fact do is allow the Member for Kluane to travel back to his riding on the weekend and again on the Tuesday to recognize Remembrance Day in his riding.
What we want to do is kind of consolidate our expenditures in a number of areas, that being one, because we are, after all, fiscally prudent.
Mr. Speaker, when we look at some of the other issues, some of our other platform commitments that we have attempted to move forward on ó boards and committee appointments ó one of the Yukon Party platform commitments is to move forward on an all-party, and Iíve tried and Iíve tried to bring this forward. And the leader of the official opposition walks out of the meeting.
Now, weíre not going to get anywhere, Mr. Speaker, when people wonít sit down and spend the time necessary to negotiate ó is perhaps the best word ó an undertaking in this area. And we hear from the leader of the third party that Friday sittings are unprecedented. Theyíve occurred before, Mr. Speaker. They continue to occur in other parliaments.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker:On a point of order, the leader of the third party.
Ms. Duncan: On a point of order, I did not refer to the Friday sittings as unprecedented. I said this House had not sat for some time on Fridays, and to start again would be setting a precedent.
Speaker:There is no point of order. Itís simply a dispute between members. Carry on please.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I could go on and on and on. Itís not going to benefit and serve the public good. Itís not going to end up benefiting Yukon taxpayers. And after all, we are elected and entrusted with the responsibility to represent Yukon. That we must do.
Mr. Speaker, members opposite pointed out there has been no cooperation in this Legislature, and yet, at the last sitting, there were five motions that were unanimously passed by this House. That is something that is unprecedented.
So there has to be some give and take in order to achieve consensus on a number of issues. After we finish debate on this motion, the next business we call is for unanimous consent to proceed to second reading of another bill and, at House leadersí meetings and in subsequent conversations I have had with the third party, Iím still giving it some consideration as to whether Iíll provide unanimous consent or not. The official opposition is another story. Thereís no way we can move forward on issues in a unanimous fashion without the full support of all in this Legislature.
Now, the options if we donít receive unanimous consent to go into second reading of the budget, the supplementary that was provided to the members opposite, embargoed ó
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker:Member for Kluane, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. I tend to think the government House leader has drifted off the substance of the amendment to this motion. He has gone on talking about the supplementary budget and other matters that are not related to this, and I would ask that you call him to order.
Speaker: On the point of order, the hon. Premier.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think itís only fair to recognize that, in listening to the official opposition and the third party on debate today on this particular motion and indeed with the amendment, much has been coming from the other side in terms of inferences that this side of the House does not cooperate. The government House leader is merely pointing out many instances where that particular case is happening when trying to deal with the opposition members.
So itís a good, full and vigorous debate and I would suggest there is no point of order.
Speaker:With regard to the point of order, the Chair feels that really there is no point of order. However, the Chair has allowed latitude in this discussion from all members. I would ask that all members now refocus themselves on the motion as amended.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What I was pointing out was how we have worked in cooperation in the past and how, as House leader, I have done my utmost to provide advance notice, provide advance briefings to the opposition parties, provide information, sketch out where we are going and what we are going to do. If it doesnít parallel what the members opposite want or are demanding, it is completely turfed out the window. Some of the requests that I have come forward with at House leadersí meetings in order to move forward on the business of this House have been very, very minor. But the pat answer from the leader of the third party is usually, "I am thinking about it."
That said, I accept the amendment thatís being proposed, Mr. Speaker. We are not looking at a holiday on the 10th. Itís still a working day, but it will allow some of us in rural ridings to travel. And what it means is we will sit on December 15 to replace the 10th.
Now, I am in charge of Health and Social Services, but Iím not a doctor, Mr. Speaker, and I see the Member for Kluane almost having a heart attack over there. But this is the way our side, the government side, is hoping to achieve consensus. And yes, Mr. Speaker, weíre about moving forward on the business of this Legislature. The next issue that comes before us, as I was saying earlier, is asking for unanimous consent of this Legislature to proceed to third reading of a supplementary. If we donít receive unanimous consent, the option is to adjourn the House, and those optics arenít very good, Mr. Speaker. So Iím looking for cooperation also, Mr. Speaker. I would ask that the amendment to this motion be called. We will be supporting this amendment, as our side will be supporting the main motion, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you very much.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question on the amendment?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker:Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Arntzen: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the amendment to the motion carried.
Amendment to Motion No. 101 agreed to
Speaker: Is there any debate on the main motion as amended?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Once again the Yukon Party has demonstrated its ability to achieve consensus and unanimous consent for the sixth time in this Legislature. Weíre making history.
Itís an uphill battle, Mr. Speaker, but weíre doing it, and as we continue to do all the good things that Yukoners are expecting from us ó restoring investor confidence in the economy, bringing back business, bringing the forestry, mining and oil and gas industries back up and running here in the Yukon, and creating a economy ó we will be moving forward on these government initiatives.
I listened to the background jibes the opposition made on a number of points. I believe that once theyíve analyzed this whole area, theyíll come to realize that theyíve erred in their judgement because, in all probability, they wonít have enough to say to carry us through to the 15th of December.
But that said, we only have to look at the debate yesterday, and that in itself was unprecedented, clearing four bills ó four bills, Mr. Speaker. And the next order of business is for me, as government House leader, to request unanimous consent to go into second reading of the supplementary ó the supplementary that our government, in an unprecedented fashion, provided embargoed copies of to the opposition, so that they could be completely briefed and completely conversant with what we have for debate here today.
I look forward to an increased level of cooperation at House leadersí meetings, but cooperation is a two-way street. And itís obvious that there are hands across the basement parties. There is quite a level of cooperation there. The debate is usually all one-sided from the opposition toward the government House leader.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thatís an interesting concept ó the Member for Kluane hurting the government House leaderís feelings. Thatís a very interesting concept.
Again, we are not going there, Mr. Speaker.
This motion that we have before us is a motion that will allow us as MLAs to spend time in our respective ridings, to pause on November 11 and to do so at less cost to the taxpayers of the Yukon for rural MLAs. I now request ó and see how we are going to do on unanimous consent to this motion as amended.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker:The Chair has decided that, although division was called and two members must be standing ó I will allow it to occur this time; however, in the future, if there are not two members standing when division is called it will not be allowed.
Division has been called.
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. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Arntzen: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Fairclough: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: The ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion No. 101 agreed to as amended
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It wonít be lost on the Yukon that this is the seventh motion that has passed this House unanimously.
Unanimous consent re Bill No. 7, Second Reading
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:Mr. Speaker, at this time I would request the unanimous consent of the House pursuant to Standing Order 55(2) for Bill No. 7, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2003-04, to be called for second reading at this time.
Some Hon. Members: Disagree.
Speaker: Unanimous consent has been denied.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved 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 3:09 p.m.
The following document was filed November 4, 2003:
Supervisor for the Town of the City of Dawson Ė Instructions: letter (dated October 23, 2003) from the Hon. Glenn Hart, Minister of Community Services, to Mr. André Carrel, Official Supervisor for the Town of the City of Dawson (Cardiff)