001a

Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, October 28, 2004 ó 1:00 p.m.

 

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

 

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

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

Tributes.

TRIBUTES

In recognition of Sam Johnston and Ken McKinnon, Yukon College chancellors

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Today I would like to start by welcoming Sam Johnston, a former Speaker of this Legislative Assembly, and also Ken McKinnon, a former Member of the Legislative Assembly.

002a

I rise to pay tribute to Ken McKinnon who recently finished as Chancellor of Yukon College, and Sam Johnston, the newly appointed chancellor of Yukonís post secondary institution.

I would like to thank Mr. McKinnon for his dedication to the Yukon College. There have been many positive changes at the Yukon College during Ken McKinnonís term.† He was an asset to Yukon Collegeís board, staff and students, and a strong supporter of post secondary education in the territory.

003a

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome Sam Johnston to his new post as Yukon Collegeís new chancellor. Leadership is not foreign to Sam Johnston, as he is a former Speaker of the Yukon Legislature and a former chief of his own people. Heís well recognized for his dedication to the Tlingit language and culture. He has been active for many years at the College, encouraging and teaching students in traditional native studies.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome Sam Johnston to the position of Chancellor of Yukon College and commend him on taking up the challenge of leading such a diverse and vibrant educational institution.

004a

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the House to help me welcome Sam to his new position. Thank you.

Applause

 

Mr. Fairclough:  † It is with great pleasure that I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to a fine gentleman, Sam Johnston, on his appointment to Chancellor of Yukon College. First I would like to also recognize a past MLA and the former Chancellor of Yukon College, Ken McKinnon, for all the fine work that he has done.

†005a

Mr. Speaker, after very ably serving as Chief of the Teslin Tlingit Council for over 14 years, Sam was elected to this House as an NDP MLA in 1985. He became the first aboriginal person to be chosen by any legislature in Canada as Speaker, although he had never watched a sitting. He is quoted as saying, ďI felt it was time for Indian people to start getting into government, where we can participate in decision making, rather than being on the outside, looking in.Ē

During his term as Speaker, Sam wrote a new prayer for opening, which invokes the Great Spirit in response to spiritual needs of people coming from different religious denominations.

006a

Sam is not one to be on the outside looking in. He has taken on all of the challenges that have come his way. The appointment as chancellor is just the latest in a long line of awards to this remarkable man.

He was inducted into the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 in recognition of his involvement in sports, particularly with young people. He was a competitive dog musher, and he passed on those skills to many people. He coached children in the Arctic Winter Games, the Dene Games and the Indigenous Games. He competes internationally in the sport of archery at the North American Indigenous Games, winning prizes while all the time teaching young people.

007a

And I know, Mr. Speaker, that many young people who have been coached by Sam in the past greatly appreciate his coaching and his skills that he has passed on. And it hits right across the territory. And even in my family, I had a nephew who won a medal in the Indigenous Games, and it kind of surprised me to get a newspaper and see on the front page a young man with one eye closed and an arrow level. And that particular shot won the medal for Yukon, and weíre all proud of that ó thanks to Sam and a lot of the work that he has done.

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Ishkeetann Clan, Sam was always rooted in the Tlingit culture. Itís evident here today. Heís in the gallery, wearing his traditional vest and colours, Mr. Speaker.

008a

For decades he taught Yukon children stick gambling, and he formed a traditional dancing group that performs in many countries. Sam has said to the Members of the Legislative Assembly, and I quote: ďYou should come prepared to talk, and you cannot accomplish anything by yelling and insulting anyone. Respect and good intentions are needed.Ē

We have no doubt that Sam will carry on his philosophy of understanding and compassion in his latest role. We say, ďWell done, Sam. You are a very good role model, and we know that many people have a lot of respect for you. Weíre all proud of you.

 

009a

Ms. Duncan:   I rise to join my colleagues in the Legislature in offering our thanks to Ken McKinnon, the past Chancellor of Yukon College, and in offering a tribute and best wishes to our former Speaker, Sam Johnston.

This new task in Mr. Johnstonís public life will be challenging and I would expect that the best part for Sam will be his interaction with students of all ages as they pursue their educational goals. Sam Johnston, throughout his life, has shown a deep concern for people, and this role will afford him an opportunity to share with Yukoners the pursuit of their dreams of lifelong learning.

On behalf of the Liberal caucus, best wishes, Mr. Johnston, in your new capacity as Chancellor of Yukon College. We wish you well.

†Thank you.

010a

In recognition of Crime Prevention Week

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I rise today to pay tribute to Crime Prevention Week, which is from October 28 to November 4 of this year.

Crime Prevention Week gives us the opportunity to increase awareness of crime prevention activities in our communities and to applaud the ongoing efforts of many individuals. I am pleased to have this opportunity to recognize and thank the many individuals who give their time for activities that lead to a reduction in crime.

To the Block Parents who open their homes to a scared child, to those who work on the streets with our youth and to that significant adult who takes the extra time to volunteer and be a role model, you are making our Yukon a safer and happier place to live. To the auxiliary police constable who volunteers many hours to support the activities of the RCMP, you are demonstrating that you care about your community and you are showing how RCMP and community members can work together to help prevent and respond to crime.

011a

To all of you who work to support crime prevention in our community, I would like all of you to know that this government appreciates your efforts. Earlier this week, I tabled amendments to the Crime Prevention Services Trust Act that will enhance the fund and provide additional support for crime prevention projects.

There are a number of activities and events planned by Crime Prevention Yukon for this year. Already this week, the seniors in our community have had the chance to learn more about personal safety and residential security, commercial crimes, frauds and identify theft.

On November 1, Crime Prevention Yukon will host the annual crime prevention awards banquet. I will be attending this event where deserving individuals will be recognized for their work in furthering crime prevention activities in our communities. Meanwhile, community involvement is the key to developing safer communities. This is part of the work our government is doing to emphasize the importance of crime prevention and community involvement.

012a

Congratulations to all of you who have worked to make our communities a safer place to live.

Thank you and mahsií cho.

 

Mr. Cardiff:   I rise today on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to Crime Prevention Week. The overwhelming costs of the criminal justice system are related to police, the courts and corrections. These are not only financial costs but they are costs to society as a whole. Families are disrupted when a person is charged, brought to trial and incarcerated. Children are left without parents. Single parents are forced onto social assistance. Violence, unfortunately, escalates. These all have repercussions that are costly to the social welfare of our communities as a whole, and they simply breed more crime.

We would point to a different emphasis. Crime should be addressed through a balanced strategy that incorporates more innovative approaches to crime prevention. In paying attention to crime prevention and the safety of our communities, we need to look at approaching the issue through social development. We need to put more effort and finances into focusing on the root causes of crime to truly respond in a preventive mode.

Social development in the cause of crime prevention stretches across a wide range of government and non-government services.

013a

Living conditions are an important factor. Poor housing, and housing lower income people all together in what amounts to a ghetto, breeds crime. Family factors such as inadequate parenting skills, substance abuse and family violence all need greater attention to be effectively combatted. FASD is an enormous factor in crime in the Yukon.

Poor school attendance and achievement are indicators of a situation that can lead to crime. We need to recognize that. Children at risk of later becoming involved in criminal activities need supportive environments both in and out of school. Employment opportunities and adult training lead to stability and security within families, within groups and within our community.

These are wide-ranging solutions, some of which are in the beginning stages in the Yukon now, but they need more attention. Prevention of crime and safety of communities means we must put more human and financial resources into social development. Itís as simple as that.

In closing, weíd like to pay tribute to the professionals and the volunteers who are involved in Crime Prevention Yukon. Without them our communities would be much less safe, and crime rates would be even higher. As the minister mentioned, there are a number of events planned by Crime Prevention Yukon during this week, and they include the annual safe Halloweíen project through the City of Whitehorse, the seniors workshop. Thereís an awards banquet, and I would like to especially draw membersí attention to a full-day workshop on crime prevention through social development being presented today.

 

014a

Speaker:   Are there any further tributes?

Introduction of visitors.

Introduction of Visitors

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:  † I would like to ask the House to help me welcome some guests in the gallery today: Jud Deuling, from Vanier High School, and his students. Welcome.

Applause

 

Mr. Hassard:   I would ask all members to join me in welcoming to the gallery Mr. Sam Johnston, his daughter Sarah, and also Mr. Thad Thomas.

Applause

 

Speaker:   Are there any further introduction of visitors?

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I have for tabling the public accounts for fiscal year 2003-04.

 

Speaker:   Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 107: Introduction and First Reading

Mr. Hardy:   I move that a bill, entitled Democratic Reform Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the leader of the official opposition that a bill, entitled Democratic Reform Act, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 107 agreed to

Bill No. 11: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 11, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Premier that Bill No. 11, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2003-04, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 11 agreed to

015a

Bill No. 12: Introduction and First Reading

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   I move that Bill No. 12, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now introduced and read a first time.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the hon. Premier that† Bill No. 12, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now introduced and read a first time.

Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 12 agreed to

 

Speaker:   Are there any further bills for introduction?

Are there any notices of motion?

Is there a statement by a minister?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re:† Government accountability

Mr. Hardy:   A couple of weeks ago, I attended a function. It was the Three Rivers event held at the Yukon Arts Centre. Now, at the end of a presentation, a Gwichíin woman made a simple but very powerful statement about what she is hearing from the elders and other people. What she said was: ďJuk Gwan doo Gwiinzii Dii Goo tha Chaa Kwaa.Ē

I apologize if my pronunciation is not very good, but I will translate that statement. What she said was: ďNo one hears us any more.Ē It was a very powerful statement on how people feel, Mr. Speaker, and Iíve heard those very same words spoken by many Yukoners in regard to this government.

My question is: what is the Premier doing to overcome this feeling so many Yukon people have that nobody is hearing them any more?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Well, Mr. Speaker, I think itís important that we address this particular question from the leader of the official opposition with what this government is doing.

We respect the opinions of First Nation elders and indeed all Yukoners, and of course an opinion that they are not being heard is something that this government listens to with concern and it certainly looks into it. Now, on a recent trip to Old Crow, it was evident that we are listening to the residents of Old Crow. Letís look at some evidence.

016a

Our capital planning initiative with the Vuntut Gwitchin government, our contribution to the Vuntut Gwitchin government by request that they take the lead when it comes to the Porcupine caribou herd, our contribution for the continuing lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., our governance MOU signed with First Nations, our consultation protocol, with all self-governing First Nations obligating ourselves as a government and First Nation governments to consult in areas of specific concern and interest to the governments of the Yukon Territory, assisting Carcross-Tagish and Kwanlin Dun,† at their requests, with their ratification processes and partnerships in the Childrenís Act review, education reform, correction reform ó all these things are derived from listening to Yukon people and Yukon First Nations.

Mr. Hardy:   Well, I hate to pop the Premierís bubble on that one, if he actually really thinks his government is listening. The evidence is all around that his ministers are not listening, nor is he. They are not hearing the people and the concerns that the people have on the ground out there. If they were, the Premier wouldnít be going to meetings like the one in Carmacks tomorrow to put out the fires created by his own minister. If the Premier himself were listening, he would have done the right thing with his Cabinet colleague who wonít pay back his loans. Obviously, heís not listening to what the people are saying. There wouldnít be demonstrations in front of the Legislature like the ones we saw last week if he were listening. Will this Premier admit that his government has a serious credibility problem ó especially with listening ó and how is he going to address this serious problem? And we donít need another list. What we need is to see the Premier actually respond to a question and try to address it for the good of the rest of the people of this territory.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Mr. Speaker, this side of the House would respond to a question of this nature if indeed it were factual. The government is listening. The government has listened for many months. The government that was elected here in November of 2002 listened to the Yukon public and created a platform, a vision and a plan for this territory by listening to Yukoners. And we continue to do that today. There is a distinct difference between ďhearingĒ and ďlisteningĒ. The members opposite hear things at their convenience. This government listens to what the Yukon public is saying, and the demonstration of that is in the delivery of all the product that has been coming forward in less than two years on behalf of Yukon citizens to make their lives better. That is indeed listening, Mr. Speaker.

017a

Mr. Hardy:   Last week at the Premierís meeting in Dawson City he heard the Member for Klondike tell his own constituents that unless they are part of his inner circle, it is up to them to find out when and where they can meet with him. Arrogance is not an attribute any government should be proud of. Unfortunately, that is what we are witnessing.

My question, once again, is: when will the Premier start living up to his campaign promise to run an open, accountable government ó one that listens and one that hears people? When?†

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Obviously the members opposite arenít listening. The government is conducting its business on behalf of the Yukon public with respect to what we heard from the Yukon public. They said, ďWe want our economy improved.Ē

Letís look at what has transpired under this governmentís watch in listening to the Yukon public on that very issue: we have more jobs in todayís Yukon, a growing population, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Thatís listening, thatís delivering.

They said they wanted our education system strengthened. This government listened. What did it do? It increased the base budget for Yukon College. It invested in a needs assessment for all of the schools in this territory. It is conducting educational reform. It has invested half a million dollars in First Nation curriculum in our education system. Thatís listening, thatís delivering.

They said they wanted something done about corrections. We listened and we are doing it. Correctional reform is underway. They said they want our social fabric strengthened. We have done that through more investment, whether it be in FASD, whether it be for children in care, whether it be for daycare centers, whether it be for reaching out to those in need. We listened, weíve delivered. Thatís what listening is about.

018a

Question re:  Tombstone Territorial Park

Mrs. Peter:   My question is for the Minister of Environment. Yesterday the minister told this House that the government has established Tombstone Park in full compliance with the TríondŽk HwŽchíin Final Agreement. Yesterday the Chief of TríondŽk HwŽchíin said the orders-in-council donít adhere to the conditions of their final agreement and that the government has failed in its obligation to consult with the First Nation.

Mr. Speaker, why hasnít the minister listened to the concerns of the First Nation? Why hasnít he heard them?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The TríondŽk HwŽchíin Final Agreement specifically outlines how Tombstone Park is to be created. Our government has followed those guidelines and established Tombstone Park. We have listened to TríondŽk HwŽchíin and their requests, and that is reflected in the orders-in-council that accompany the main order-in-council that establishes Tombstone Park.

Mrs. Peter:   Tomorrow the minister will actually be at a public meeting in Dawson with the Minister of Highways and Public Works ó and the meeting, I might add, was mentioned on very short notice. It was also scheduled during working hours so the people of Dawson, and especially the people living in west Dawson, will not be able to attend the meeting. Thatís how well this minister listens.

Iím not sure that this minister even listens to me, so I call on the Premier to direct the Minister of Environment to meet with Chief Darren Taylor and TríondŽk HwŽchíin First Nation while he is in Dawson tomorrow and honestly listen to their concerns.

019a

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   The Cabinet approved the establishment of Tombstone Park and the other OICs last Thursday. They were signed off by the Commissioner shortly thereafter. On Friday morning in Dawson, I phoned Chief Taylorís office to convey the news to Chief Taylor. I spoke to his receptionist or his secretary, who advised me that Chief Taylor was out of town, and I left a message for him as to Tombstone Park having been established. I have done what I was charged to do ó conveyed the message to Chief Taylor ó and Iím prepared to meet with the chief and the council any time that is mutually convenient.

Question re:  Business loans, outstanding

Ms. Duncan:   I have some questions for the Premier, the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance has demonstrated a fondness for questions that require a yes-or-no answer. The MLA for Klondikeís business owes Yukon taxpayers $300,000. Has the Premier personally asked his colleague, the MLA for Klondike, to ensure this money is paid? It requires a one-word answer: yes or no.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Of course this government is concerned about monies owed to it, and thatís why we took the actions that we did. The progress made in this file is quite substantial compared to other governments when faced with this very same challenge, and I need not repeat the progress made here in this House.

Furthermore, I did state clearly in this House that there are remaining delinquencies ó that would include the Member for Klondike ó and that if our option, the chosen option, is to proceed with collection ó that would also include the Member for Klondike. I would submit to you that thatís making a definite demand of the Member for Klondike in regard to his liability.

020a

Ms. Duncan:   The Premier and other ministers on that side continue to suggest that previous governments didnít do any work on the loans issue. That is factually incorrect. It is wrong. Debts to the people of the Yukon were paid off under the McDonald government. One only has to look at the public accounts. Under our government he only has to look at the Hughes report, which was filed in this House in November 2001. That report lists the work that we did on this issue, including at Management Board. When we were in government, we were developing a policy to deal fairly with all outstanding loans.

Previous governments, the hundreds of businesses that have paid off their loans, the businesses that have come and sat down and worked out a repayment schedule, they are not the issue. The issue is the loans where no payment effort has been made. There is one very public example. Itís right beside the Premier. Has the Premier personally asked the MLA for Klondike to pay back his loan? Yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Frankly, this does not have anything to do with my personal opinion. What it has to do with is the government of the day dealing with a delinquent file. The leader of the third party, when in government, states they did a lot of work on this. That is not the case. What are reflected in public accounts are people that came forward making regular payments. What weíre dealing with is a delinquent file that has been delinquent for years. This is the first government that has made progress.

Let me repeat for the member oppositeís benefit: we have forgiven the non-governmental organizations hundred of thousands of dollars. We have repatriated hundreds of thousands of more dollars back to the federal government where it belongs. In our process, Mr. Speaker, we have approximately $2 million recommitted. That is significant work done. That is significant progress made on a delinquent file.

On the remaining delinquencies, however, we are going to take action. One of the options open to us is collection and that collection process, should it be launched, would include the Member for Klondike. That is a clear, emphatic statement of what this governmentís position is.† We are going to collect the debt owed to the Yukon public.

021a

Ms. Duncan:   I would encourage the Finance minister to actually have a look at the Hughes report, at the public accounts, which indicates progress made by all the previous governments to his.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that tarnishes the reputation of every member of this Legislature. Every individual who seeks public office gets tarred with this kind of brush. It makes us all look bad. Itís the subject of many jokes by Yukoners; itís the subject of coffee shop conversations; itís the most popular subject by a long shot on the new Dawson City political discussion Web page.

I will ask the Premier again for a straightforward, yes-or-no answer: has the Premier personally asked the MLA for Klondike to pay back his outstanding loan? Please answer with a simple yes or no.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Again, Mr. Speaker, I point out that I have responded clearly by stating that, should the government choose, in a fair and equitable manner, collection as an option, it would include the Member for Klondike.

I know the member opposite has great zeal to attack the Member for Klondike because apparently she ó

Some Hon. Member:   Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker:   Leader of the third party, on a point of order.

Ms. Duncan:   I would suggest that the Finance ministerís comments are casting aspersions and implying motives upon this member and I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to direct him to withdraw them.

Speaker:   Hon. Premier, on the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I can solve the memberís problem. When I say ďattackĒ, it is meant that the member opposite is trying to set on stage here the Member of Klondike for a specific reason, and the point I was going to make ó

There are many other reasons that the member opposite, the member of the third party, could focus her attention on and I would get to that in a moment, Mr. Speaker, upon your ruling.

Speakerís ruling

Speaker:   From the Chairís perspective, there is no point of order. However, the Chair does not condone the use of suggestively violent language and I would ask the hon. Premier to curtail that.

 

Hon. Mr. Fentie:   Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The member opposite has great zeal in dealing with this issue specific to the Member for Klondike.

022a

But letís look at the Liberal friends of the member of the third party in Ottawa. Hereís a case, Mr. Speaker, where the Liberal government in Ottawa, through the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, owes this territory $21 million. Would the member opposite apply the same zeal to her Liberal friends in Ottawa? Yes or no?

Question re:  Caribou permit allocation

Mr. McRobb:   My question today is for the Premier, who needs to repair the damage caused by the Environment minister on the allocation of caribou from the Aishihik herd. People in Haines Junction and indeed elsewhere in the territory are concerned about how this government upset the apple cart of public process by choosing to listen to one outfitter instead of the Umbrella Final Agreement-mandated resource council appeal board and the public. Frankly, the Environment minister has shown no remorse. His facts are wrong, and his excuses donít add up. Will the Premier now agree to hold the public meeting in Haines Junction to listen to the people and to hear the people so he can straighten out the ministerís mess?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   Mr. Speaker, this issue and this question have been presented before in this Legislature. It has been responded to and once again I will go over the issue.

There is the Alsek Renewable Resource Council. There are the outfitters, there is the Outfitter Quota Appeal Committee, and there is the Department of Environment. They are moving forward in establishing a new agreement on the quotas. That is what is transpiring. The reason that the Outfitter Quota Appeal Committeeís recommendations werenít accepted, Mr. Speaker, I have clearly outlined for the members opposite and for this House that it was an issue of natural justice and the board did not provide the reasons at the same time as the decision.

023a

Thatís the essence of the difficulty I, as minister, was faced with, and the Minister of Environment has a clear responsibility ó a clear responsibility ó to follow completely the letter of the law.

Mr. McRobb:   I certainly hope the MLA for Klondike hasnít been promoted again. My question was addressed to the Premier. This government is all ears for one outfitter, but it doesnít hear anybody else. The Premier and minister need to listen and learn the facts of this case. Enough hobnobbing with inner circles; itís time to reconnect with the people. Both he and the minister are wrong on a number of fronts on this issue. They have insulted people across the territory. Theyíve set an unfortunate precedent that diminishes public process and the hunting rights of Yukon citizens. Letís be honest with each other. The public deserves better, a whole lot better. Will the Premier agree to at least attend a public meeting in Haines Junction to discuss this matter with the people? I will make the necessary arrangements? Will he do that?

Hon. Mr. Jenkins:   For the member opposite, Iím sure heís well aware that the Premier has been to the Junction and had a public meeting just recently.

With respect to where the department is at with the quota, it affected three outfitters. Weíre updating the data. Thereís a new process underway. The Outfitter Quota Appeal Committee will be reviewing that data and a new process is underway for the next year to re-establish quotas for the outfitters in question.

024a

Question re:  Tantalus School, Yukon College campus at

†Mr. Fairclough:   My question is to the Minister of Education. The minister made it very clear all this week and all of last week that he is refusing to listen to the people of Carmacks. They have tried to make it clear to him where they want the Yukon College campus to be but the minister doesnít hear them.

Why is the minister ignoring the advice of the committee that he set up himself? Why is he ignoring the advice of the school council? Why is he ignoring the Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation government? Why canít he hear them?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I have constantly gone over this issue for the last week and, for the record again, I will state that the safety of the children is paramount among everybody elseís opinions. The school is in a deplorable condition. It cannot be accessed by anyone in a wheelchair and I would also state that even the elders would have a hard time walking through that school.

This government has made a decision to replace the school and that is something that has been ignored by the previous two governments.

Mr. Fairclough:   If the minister didnít hear the question, it was about the community campus and not the school. A demonstration outside of this House ó what did the minister do? He ran out the back door of this YTG building, jumped into his truck and took off. He didnít want to hear the people. I have to say, I give up on this minister.

Weíve heard the ministerís vacuous replies one too many times. Maybe the Premier will listen. I know the Premier is going to Carmacks tomorrow to try to clean up the mess that his Education minister created. Will the minister give a commitment right now that he will hear the people of Carmacks?

025a

Will he direct his Minister of Education to listen in the future? This is very important to the people of Carmacks; this is very important to the people of the Yukon. This question is directed to the Premier and I want to hear the Premier answer this question and not the Minister of Education because we didnít get any answers ó we know exactly where the minister is going.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   Iíd like to point out for the record that every statement the member opposite makes is strictly that memberís opinion. I stand here today and say that everyone is entitled to an opinion.

Mr. Speaker, the member oppositeís comments about this minister running and hiding are very untrue. As a matter of fact, it might be more appropriate to say that some members in that memberís riding cannot find him. They have to drive to Whitehorse to get their side of the story heard.

Thatís one thing I have ó no fear. I have no fear of talking to people because I have nothing to hide. Everything this government is doing is with total and utter respect for the citizens and children, youth, adults, seniors and elders in Carmacks. We will continue to do our best to provide a public infrastructure, a house of learning, that will be there for many years.

Question re:  Whitehorse Copper land development

Mr. Cardiff:   For the past several days, people around the Yukon are buzzing about the big land rush this government has sparked, but the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources isnít listening. He knows best: sell the land first, do the planning after.

In my own riding of Mount Lorne, many people are upset because the Minister of Community Services isnít hearing them about a subdivision the government insists on creating.

My question is for the Minister of Community Services: when will the minister start listening to the legitimate concerns about the Whitehorse Copper development and when will he start hearing?

026a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I would like to provide a bit of factual information for the member opposite to review. The Whitehorse Copper development scheme started in 1997. It was approved by the city council of that time in November 1999. They went through the city official plan in 2000. In 2001, they commenced the planning of Whitehorse Copper development, of which they had several public consultations right throughout the whole process. That particular area was also approved in the official city plan, which that area is designated for.

Mr. Cardiff:   Thatís pretty interesting. The minister isnít listening. Whatís interesting is that the City of Whitehorse is listening to my constituents about their concerns. Council members have even come out to go on a tour of the area and discuss those concerns with my constituents, but this minister isnít listening and heís not hearing.

Now on April 8, I got a letter from the Premier. I had raised some concerns with him and what the Premier assured me was that the concerns of the area residents would be fully considered before any final determination is made as to the future of this project. Now those are the Premierís words, and this question is for the Premier.

I would like the Premier to agree to take a guided tour of the proposed subdivision and listen first-hand to the concerns of my constituents. Will he also direct his minister to actually hear those concerns?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I mentioned earlier, I would like to follow up on some of that information for him also to follow up. There has been consultation. Itís not like there hasnít been anything done. There has been lots of consultation in the past. This government, when it came over, provided additional information and it also provided the aspect of doing an environmental assessment of that process. We have made all of that information open to the public. We have made all of that information available to all of his constituents in that particular riding.

027a

We have taken the response from all of those individuals from that riding and incorporated it in our decision through the environmental process. We have done everything that we have been required to in an environmental assessment to deal with that particular consultation. And I remind the member opposite that that was approved under the official city plan and also under the scheme approved by the city council of that particular process. We the government are acting on behalf of the city for the development of that particular aspect on behalf of the City of Whitehorse.

 

Speaker:   Order please. The Member for Copper Belt is next on the question rotation.

Question re:  Hamilton Boulevard

Mr. Arntzen: My question today is for the Minister of the Department of Highways and Public Works, and itís in regard to the extension of Hamilton Boulevard. The minister tabled a motion in the House last Thursday in this regard; however, that motion created some questions. Will the minister please inform my constituents and me of whether the Yukon government is engaged in planning for construction for the extension of Hamilton Boulevard at this time?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We did indicate that we have planning money set aside to deal with the Hamilton Boulevard extension in this upcoming supplementary.

Mr. Arntzen: Back to the Minister of the Department of Highways and Public Works. Will the minister assure me and the residents of my riding that the Kwanlin Dun First Nation government and the City of Whitehorse will be consulted during the planning of such an extension?

028a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We fully intend to consult with all those involved in that particular extension. We are making efforts to meet with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation chief. We have been in discussions with the City of Whitehorse already and we are planning to proceed down that particular road.

One of the major reasons weíre looking at planning in this area is we have received several concerns from the residents of that area.

Mr. Arntzen: Will the Minister of Highways and Public Works please provide me with an estimated timeline for such an extension?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíre in the planning process. Once we get through determining where the road will go and how the egress will take place through the subdivision, that will determine the length and time of the process.

 

Speaker:   The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

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

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

Motion agreed to

 

Speaker leaves the Chair

029a

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before Committee this afternoon is Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act.

Before we begin do members wish a brief recess?

Some Hon. Member:   Agreed.

Chair:   We will take a 15-minute recess.

 

Recess

 

030a

Bill† No. 51 ó Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act ó continued

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee this afternoon is Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, in general debate.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I wish to respond to a number of questions that hon. members have raised during the second reading of debate of the bill to amend the Motor Vehicles Act.

I have said previously that this is a complex and very comprehensive piece of legislation that members opposite have questioned in considerable detail.

While some of the matters raised are outside of the amendments we have placed before this House, there are a number of points of clarification that I would like to present to the members opposite.

031a

On Tuesday, the leader of the third party asked for a copy of the letter from the former Justice minister to the lawyer for the local tow truck company. I am pleased to be able to provide that letter to the leader of the third party and will do so forthwith. So I can table that here.

With respect to her request for tabling of legal opinions on the issue of impounded commercial vehicles, the opposition member knows well that the legal advice is privileged communication between the solicitor and the client. For that reason, the privileged communication will not be forthcoming.

032a

The leader of the third party also asked about a number of wrongful impoundment applications that have come forward. I would like to spend a few moments reviewing section 243 as it stands now.

This section was originally enacted in 1997 as section 222(9). It has not been amended since although it got a new number under the revised statutes of 2002. Under section 243 the owner of a vehicle that has been impounded has the right to apply to the Minister of Justice for release of the vehicle on the grounds that it was not lawfully impounded. When an application is made under this section, the minister does not have the option of declining to consider that matter. The minister, or a ministerís delegate acting on behalf of the minister, is required by law to consider the matter and specifically to determine whether the vehicle has been lawfully impounded.

033a

Other provisions of the act explicitly state that the review officers are not to consider this issue. Rather, they are to consider only the various compassionate grounds that the act sets out for early release. In other words, ever since they were first enacted in 1997, the provisions have required the minister to consider an application ó an issue that cannot be made to or considered by the review officers. The rationale for section 243 is to provide a quick remedy for those situations where an investigation following an initial impoundment shows that, contrary to what the police officer reasonably believed at the time, the full information shows that the impoundment was wrongful.

034a

Perhaps the officer on the highway overlooked a legal requirement that became clear later with the opportunity for a second look or because the officer acted on the basis of information that was later shown to be inaccurate or incomplete.

Experience here and in Manitoba indicates that those situations do sometimes occur. One example is where the officer on the highway checks the driverís record and it is later shown the database contained inaccurate information. Departmental records indicate that there have been 10 applications under this section of the act. The first application was in July 2003. It is one that received so much publicity in the media and has been the subject of many questions in this House. There have been nine cases subsequent to that case, including one additional commercial vehicle.

035a

These nine cases were all unsuccessful because there was no information brought forward to show that the impoundment was wrongful.

For example, a quick review of some of the files reveals in one case that the owner felt they were being punished for the actions of the driver. In another, the person did not know their licence had been suspended. In another instance, the dependant was attempting to apply for early release of the vehicle that they were not entitled to have. With this file, the reason for impoundment was that the driver was found to have consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in his or her blood exceeded 160 mg. per 100 ml. of blood ó a violation of section 238(10).

036a

The first application under this section of the act was the only one that was dealt with by the Minister of Justice personally. That application made it apparent that there should be a system of delegation in place. Previous governments had not established one so one had to be established by this government for future cases. The subsequent nine cases were all dealt with by an official in the Department of Justice to whom the Minister of Justice had delegated the responsibility as provided under section 17 of the Interpretation Act. No costs have been paid out for wrongful impoundment.

In regard to the question from the Member for Mayo-Tatchun about gas-powered engines on a bicycle, a fuel-powered engine can be added to a bicycle. When that is done, a person has made and is driving a vehicle called a moped. The word ďmopedĒ is being removed from the Motor Vehicles Act because this summerís Motor Vehicles Act regulations define ďmopedĒ as a motor vehicle called a ďlimited speed motorcycleĒ.

037a

So a limited-speed motorcycle includes a moped. A limited-speed motorcycle is equipped with a piston-driven motor of not more than 50 ccs, a standard aspect for that particular type of vehicle. Also, the definition of ďmotor vehicleĒ in the act means a vehicle that is designed to be self-propelled in any manner except solely by muscle power. Therefore, a bicycle fitted with a fuel-powered engine would be a motor vehicle in the law. A person operating this type of vehicle on the streets would need to register it, just as a limited-speed motorcycle must be registered as a motor vehicle. The operator would also need to have an operatorís licence, and because of the recent legal change to the regulations, the operator of that type of vehicle could use any class of operator licence.

The member has asked, ďWhy make these legal changes for electrical bicycles?Ē Electric bicycles are a relatively recent vehicle available and in use in Canada. Transport Canada was asked to consider approving these cycles in Canada a number of years ago. Transport Canada studied these vehicles and eventually passed regulations stipulating the specifications that importers or manufacturers would have to meet.

038a

In 2002, provinces like British Columbia and Quebec, for example, have allowed these vehicles to be used like bicycles in their jurisdictions ó that is, without them having to be registered and without the operators needing or requiring a licence. Other Canadian jurisdictions are considering whether to allow the units to operate as bicycles instead of as motor vehicles, as the Yukon is proposing. I have the federal regulations detailing the specifications of these vehicles, and I would be happy to provide the regulation to the member opposite if he requests.

The federal regulation states that these vehicles must not be able to be operated above the 32 kilometres per hour. This speed was chosen for two reasons. The main marketplace for these vehicles is in the United States, and that country requires vehicles to be built to have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour; 20 miles per hour corresponds to 32 kilometres per hour in Canada. The other reason for the maximum speed is that 32 kilometres per hour is a speed that many bicycles can attain, so 32 is a reasonable speed comparable to the speed of bicycles.

039a

Just to give an additional point of reference, 30 km per hour is the maximum speed that vehicles may go in school zones when schools are in operation.

The Member for Mount Lorne raised an issue about legal matters remaining on the driversí abstracts. I can advise the members that the letter he referred to is being reviewed by the Department of Community Services and the Department of Justice. Privacy concerns prevent me from discussing this particular case in detail but we will be providing answers to the memberís letter in a general concept.

The leader of the opposition asked about employee safety, and I want to assure him that we are mindful of the safety of all workers. The federal government, through Bill C-45, has taken a very firm line on workersí safety. I quote: ďEveryone who undertakes or has the authority to direct how any person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person or any person arising from that work or task.Ē

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak further to the question on Tuesday about the possible contradiction with other legislation in terms of responsibility of employers for the actions of employees.

040a

I believe those questions were mainly in reference to, or at least inspired by, clause 8 of the bill, which would establish new subsections 237(6.1) and 237(6.2). There is a lot of law that deals with the various aspects of an employerís legal responsibility for the actions of their employees. There is common law about employment. There is common law about the liabilities of owners of property, specifically motor vehicles, for the operation or use of that property, various provisions in occupational health and safety legislation, and in the context of other legislation that regulates particular activities such as transportation of dangerous goods for the protection of the environment.

There is section 248 of the Motor Vehicles Act which deals with the liability of the owner for offences against the Motor Vehicles Act and is used in situations where the driver cannot be identified but the vehicle has in fact been driven in a manner contrary to the Motor Vehicles Act. There is common law, and section 5 of the Summary Convictions Act establishes who the parties to an offence are.†

We do not see any conflict or contradiction between the provisions on impoundment, including the new subsections 237(6.1) and 237(6.2) on the one hand, and any of those other laws on the other hand.

041a

The provisions of impoundment impose additional potential liabilities on the owners of motor vehicles. Included in the burden is having to go through the procedures to request early release and paying the fees, fines and penalties.

One principle of the section on impoundment, and particularly the new subsections, is that the vehicle will be impounded because of the conduct of the driver. The grounds for impoundment will usually not be the offence under the Motor Vehicles Act. Indeed, one important purpose of the provision about impoundment is to establish impoundment as a consequence for the conduct that is an offence under the Criminal Code, even though it is not an offence under the Motor Vehicles Act.

This is for the simple reason that very few of the offences under the Motor Vehicles Act are thought to justify something as serious as impoundment.

Another principle of these sections is that, if the impoundment is lawful, then the owner of the vehicle is liable for the consequences of the impoundment even though the owner was not driving, unless the owner can come within one of the situations that the act allows as a reason for the early release. Those are now described in subsections 237(6) and 237(7) of the act.† Also, an owner might in fact benefit from early release under subsection 238(8), but the purpose of that section is to recognize the needs of other persons.

042a

The new subsections 237(6.1) and 237(6.2) will expand the grounds on which early release can be ordered. However, those new provisions definitely preserve the principle that the owner suffers the consequences of the impoundment unless the owner was not driving and, according to the criteria established by the subsections, the owner was not complicit in the driving that resulted in the impoundment and meets the other criteria for early release.

The issue of the ownerís liability to impoundment in cases where the owner was not the driver is complex. We have to find a balance to take into account a variety of cases with vastly different demands for fairness. Itís not reasonable or just to have the simple rule that the owner suffers the impoundment even if the owner was not driving. There are obvious injustices of doing that when the driver stole the vehicle. Other cases can range from one extreme to the other.

One example would be an employee or relative or friend who has access to a vehicle and who drives it against the explicit instructions of the owner. Another would be the exact opposite situation where an employee or relative or friend drives when they shouldnít be in obedience to explicit direction from the owner.

Let me use some concrete examples. Suppose the owner was not driving and the vehicle is the water delivery truck the community relies on, or an ambulance, or a vehicle essential to the work of a small business, or a vehicle that is the livelihood of several other employees who, like the owner, are completely innocent of the driving that caused the impoundment.

We hear the comment that new subsections 237(6.1) and 237(6.2) will be a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.

043a

They are not a loophole; they are a mercy rule. The gist of the provisions will be that an owner can get relief from the impoundment only if the vehicle was stolen from them or if they were not the driver or the passenger at the time and they meet one of the criteria for the need described by the provisions.

In short, we are attempting to ensure that owners can get relief from the impoundment in some cases but not in every case, because of a very serious need for a vehicle by the owner or by their circle of relatives and/or dependants.

We believe that it is better to be merciful and release the vehicle to meet that need than to keep the vehicle impounded and cause extraordinary suffering for the relatives and/or their dependants.

The mercy rule does not allow the driver who violated the law and caused the impoundment to drive the vehicle when it is released early. That driver remains banned from driving that vehicle for the rest of the impoundment period, which is the remainder of either the 30 days, if itís the first impoundment, or a longer period if it is subsequent.

Chair:   The member has two minutes.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Okay.

If a banned driver was caught driving during the remaining period of impoundment, the vehicle may not be released early on this occasion. The mercy rule ends.

These amendments were developed after a great deal of careful thought and work on the part of the stakeholdersí advisory group made up of representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Yukon Transportation Association and Teamsters.

I would like to thank our advisory group of dedicated people, including representatives, as I have said, from MADD, Teamsters, and the Yukon Transportation Association. The Yukonís roads and highways will be safer and the police will have additional powers to prevent tragedy before it happens. We are also very grateful to the RCMP, who provided invaluable input to our deliberations, and most importantly, to the residents of the Yukon who took time out of their busy days and lives to share their thoughtfully considered views.

044a

This is about what Yukoners want and how they want to make the Yukon roads safer for all Yukoners.

Mr. McRobb:   I have some questions, but before I start, I think the time limit truncated the ministerís speech. Perhaps heíd like an opportunity to finish it off.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   These amendments were developed after a great deal of careful thought and work on the part of a stakeholders group, advisory group, made up of representatives from, as I said, MADD, or Mothers Against Driving Drunk, Yukon Transportation Association and Teamsters. Our key stakeholders are the Driver Control Board, which administers the ignition interlock program, review officers, who administer the early release provisions of the vehicle impoundment program, the RCMP, who administer the impoundment program at roadside, and officials from the departments of Justice, Community Services and Highways and Public Works. The government gave the advisory group a mandate to review the legislation and make suggestions for its improvement.

The members of this group worked diligently, reviewing background material, Yukon legislation and laws from other jurisdictions, in addition to several brainstorming sessions. They recommended that the changes be brought about to make impoundment provisions put in place under the previous government more fair and equitable for all vehicle owners.

045a

These amendments do not make the roads any less safe. In fact, road safety will be improved with these amendments. Any time an impaired driver is taken off the road, we improve road safety for other users of the road as well as innocent bystanders. The current act is silent on the mercy rule applying to commercial vehicles. That was an unjust gap in the law. It has been there since 1997. It is time to have a reasonable mercy rule for private vehicles and for commercial vehicles.

The public consultation clearly shows widespread support for making this section of the act more equitable. No longer will commercial vehicle owners look for mercy rules that apply to commercial vehicles and only find the mercy rules that apply to private vehicles.†

This will also send commercial vehicle owners a clear message that impoundment laws apply to them as well as the private vehicle owners. Administrative sanctions, like vehicle impoundments, allow police to interpret the events that could lead to tragedy on the roads by removing that impaired driver immediately from the road and taking away the vehicle that was being driven.

These amendments do provide some early release provisions for vehicle owners if the owner was not driving or in the vehicle when the offence was committed. Previous owners were not allowed to apply for early release of their vehicles. The advisory group and the general public felt this was unfair. Some members of the opposition have argued that there should be no early release provisions for commercial vehicles. Once a commercial vehicle goes into impoundment, it should stay there until the end of the impoundment period.

I wonder if those members have really considered how unfair that proposal may be. Have they thought about what could happen in a community where there is only one bus, or only one furnace service truck, or one gas delivery truck? The impoundment laws were never intended to punish a community for the actions of a driver, nor were the impoundment laws ever intended to put a company out of business or result in an innocent employee losing his or her job because of the actions of another employee.

046a

No, the impoundment provisions are intended to get high risk drivers off the road. Early release of a vehicle from impoundment does not nullify other actions that the police may have taken involving the driver, such as charging the driver with impaired driving and/or suspending the driverís driving privileges for a period of time until the case goes to court. In no way, shape or form does the government condone drunk driving.

The Yukon has some of the toughest administrative sanctions in the country to protect road users from drunk drivers. In addition to impounding a vehicle, the RCMP may also issue a 90-day roadside suspension of driving privileges and/or charge the driver with impaired driving under the Criminal Code of Canada. The drunk driver in this case will face the full force of the law in criminal courts and may receive a term of imprisonment as a result.

The amendments we have put forward mean safer roads and additional clarification for police, motorists and vehicle owners. Our consultation with the public showed widespread and very strong support for these changes that we are putting forward to the House.

†I would like to thank the member opposite for allowing me to finish my speech and I look forward to his report.

Mr. McRobb:   Certainly we appreciate the scriptures of this minister and today is quite a day for that. Not only did we get a lengthy speech to resume general debate on this act amendment, but we also received the final question today in Question Period that he wrote. We are quite impressed with his literary skills, to say the least.

I would like to start off by asking the minister if he would define why the public consultation process was that preceded the drafting of the amendments. Were there advertisements in newspapers and so on, meetings in communities, that sort of thing? Would he mind detailing that for me?

047a

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Chair:   Before we continue on with general debate, I would like to welcome to our Assembly a former member of our Assembly, Mr. Ken McKinnon, and his wife Judy, both residents of beautiful Southern Lakes.

Applause

 

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The advisory committee consisted, as I mentioned, of MADD, Yukon Transportation Association, Teamsters, along with meetings held with our review officers, the RCMP and Justice. Input was also received from the Driver Control Board, the RCMP, and we worked toward brainstorming on those issues so we could come forward.

Mr. McRobb:   I heard most of the ministerís response. Obviously he dealt with a number of groups and agencies, but can he repeat or elaborate on what consultation there was with the general public for these amendments, please?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   On a point of order, if I could.

Point of order

Chair:   On a point of order.

TRIBUTES

In remembrance of Bert Wybrew

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I would like to rise today on behalf of the House to pay tribute to Bert Wybrew, a former mayor of Whitehorse. Bert Wybrew was a true Yukon innovator and community leader. Many remember Bert as Whitehorseís longest serving mayor, and he was co-founder of WHTV. More than that, Mr. Chair, by all accounts he was a generous, friendly and capable man who contributed a great deal to his community.

I understand that some of Bertís relatives are in the gallery with us today: Tracy and Pate Knobbs, Ken and Deb Bentley and Ed and Val Bentley. I would like to introduce them and ask the members of the Legislature to accept them here in the Legislature today.

048a

Iíd like to take this opportunity to also pass along our heartfelt condolences. There have not been many men who have had an impact on Whitehorse to the extent that Bert did. First elected as mayor in 1968, he was re-elected five times before leaving office in 1974. Everyone in this House and in municipal governments around the territory understands what an incredible feat that kind of a record is. I believe that his election record is about more than vote counts. I believe that the record speaks to the manís character and the great ability that he showed as a municipal leader.

At the same time he held the mayorís post, he managed to help guide WHTV through the early lean years. One anecdote I saw in a local paper recalled that it wasnít uncommon to see the mayor climbing the pole outside your office to fix the cable before coming inside for a cup of coffee and a chat. It was sort of like the old doctors making house calls.

That is a true community representative blessed with a host of different talents. Even when he left the territory, it was out of a sense of duty and compassion. A family member required medical attention that was only available in Vancouver, so he packed up his life and did the right thing. He moved to help his family work through a tough time. That says a great deal about the man, as does the relationship with his wife, Betty. Teenage sweethearts, Betty and Bert were reunited in Dawson in the 1950s and ended up getting married and sharing their lives together. Betty passed away just last month, close to her devoted husband.

Bert Wybrew is a model for us all in public and in private life and he will be dearly missed and long remembered by this community.

049a

Mr. McRobb:   Mr. Chair, we in the official opposition would also like to pass our condolences to the family of Mr. Wybrew and friends and note the several accomplishments he made for the Yukon Territory, both in private life and public life.

Thank you.

 

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, we provided public consultation involved through newspapers, radio advertisements, inviting the public to comment on proposals as well as a telephone survey, and weíve written and been in consultation with First Nation and Yukon communities invited to participate in our survey.

Mr. McRobb:   Thatís good information. Could the minister indicate whether there were open houses or public meetings designed to collect public input and to provide information on the proposed amendments and, another important point, to collect input for any possibilities on how to amend the act? The minister has indicated there was contact with several agencies and other governments, et cetera. What Iím really trying to find out is whether Joe Public had an opportunity to attend a meeting or open house, listen to the proposals, be made aware of an opportunity to advance suggestions for further proposals and so on.

050a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We published the survey in the newspapers. We provided a toll-free number for the general public to respond. I will advise the member opposite that we did receive 25 inquiries that completed the survey and provided us with background information.

Mr. McRobb:   Thatís all fine and dandy but I guess the answer to my question was no, there was no public meeting or open house to collect input from the public and especially to inform them of the opportunity that the government was interested in hearing any suggestions on how to further amend the act.

I would like to move on to some questions I have regarding the act. It has been said that this is a lengthy document, and that certainly is factual. It is a very lengthy document. It would take a lot of time to go through this act. Some of us had an opportunity to review parts of it a few years ago when it was last amended, and fewer of us had an opportunity a few years prior to that when the act was brought in and further amended. So this is the third opportunity since Iíve been here, I believe, to deal with this act. It is a lengthy document. Unfortunately I havenít had the opportunity to read it from cover to cover recently, and I would like to ask for the indulgence of the minister, who has the help of his officials from the department in answering a few questions.

051a

On the area of driving without insurance, can the minister explain what the law is now and when this was last changed?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   That isnít part of our amendment, but in an effort to try to respond to the memberís question I hope that I can provide him with a response to that question, hopefully within the next five or 10 minutes.

Mr. McRobb:   Five or 10 minutes? I had no idea it would take so long to respond to that. Would the minister like a quick recess to deal with that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I said, this isnít part of our amendment. The individual in Community Services who is in charge of motor vehicles can be reached, and I will be able to get him to give a response to that particular question.

Mr. McRobb:   I presume someone in the department is monitoring this discussion and that person has already been activated, so perhaps I can move on to another area and hopefully we can hear back to avoid a break in the debate this afternoon ó ďa break in the action,Ē somebody has said.

Do the ministerís amendments provide for any change in the driving-without-insurance laws? I just want to comment on something the minister said. Even though my question doesnít strictly pertain to one of his amendments, that does not prevent the opposition from taking this opportunity to ask questions about the broader act.

052a

Itís just like a supplementary budget debate, Mr. Chair. The opposition is not strictly confined to the line items of the budget. In general debate we can ask anything pertaining to the budget. At this opportunity, itís my understanding we have full opportunity to ask anything on the act that is being amended.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As mentioned, we havenít made a change to the Insurance Act, and once I get the information on the last time it was changed, Iíll provide it to the member opposite as soon as possible.

Mr. McRobb:   Thank you to the minister for that response.

My second question pertains to the measures to revoke a driverís licence after insurance is cancelled. Obviously this is for someone who continues to drive. Can the minister indicate what the current law is and when it was last changed?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   If you drive without insurance, it is an automatic 10 demerit points provided against your licence. The section of the act is section 72 and it was last amended in 1998.

Mr. McRobb:   Thatís very interesting because Iíve done a little bit of research on this matter and I found that, when the bill was last amended, the now Deputy Premier suggested this area be included in the amendments brought forward by the previous government.

053a

The Member for Klondike not only suggested this as an area for amending the act, he railed on quite vigorously at the previous government for bringing in what were confessed to be only housekeeping changes to the legislation. I seem to recall this minister has also confessed that changes to this legislation are basically housekeeping improvements. That begs the question: if housekeeping improvements werenít good enough for the Yukon Party just a few years ago, why are they good enough for it now? The Member for Klondike specifically identified this as an area that needed to be amended in the act.

This Motor Vehicles Act is pretty well the flagship of the Yukon Partyís legislation at this midpoint in its term. The other bills before this House deal with wording changes and updating language to reflect new laws that are connected to the bills, such as the inclusion of YOGA in the Oil and Gas Act. The other bills are strictly housekeeping. A lot of those bills are quite obscure in nature.

054a

†So this bill ó this change to the Motor Vehicles Act ó is the flagship of the Yukon Partyís legislative agenda in this mid-term sitting of the Yukon Legislature. So what was fair to expect in this legislation? Only housekeeping amendments? Is it fair to expect that? No, Mr. Chair, thatís not fair. And the Yukon Party and opposition would have rejected any notion that that was fair, yet we see the Yukon Party government after two years, diddling around with housekeeping measures and providing nothing substantial in this legislation.

The now Deputy Premier and former leader of the Yukon Party, the MLA for Klondike, went on at considerable length. He accused the previous government of wasting time, of not focusing on the larger issues, of not doing his homework. He said such things as ó and Iíll quote: ďItís because it might take a little forethought, a little planning and a little bit of initiative on the ministerís part to even think about it.Ē Mr. Chair, I reviewed the Hansard, and some of it, I donít think, is parliamentary in todayís Yukon Legislature, because itís insulting, demeaning and borderline sexist language.

055a

So I wonít quote verbatim from what that member had to say to the previous minister, but I will certainly quote some other statements that might be allowed, at the risk of being called out of order even then. Iím not putting the onus on this Minister of Highways, because I donít think he is much at fault here. I think that the fault here should be put on the government House leader, who was the same member in question, and the Premier for having such a light legislative agenda and for conveniently forgetting about past positions on issues and about past criticism that it levied against previous governments for doing what it wants to get away with now. Is that fair? I shall say not. That is not fair.

If anybody in this House or any future member who is elected in this House thinks you can get away with saying something in opposition criticizing a government ó a minister ó on something, and then get away with doing the same thing if elected into government the following term, or term after that, whatever the case may be, then that person is sadly mistaken, because itís not right that they should try to hold someone to a standard they arenít willing to achieve themselves.

056a

Thereís quite a substantial case here. Iíve got a number of items suggested by the MLA for Klondike, as he vociferously pressured the previous Highways minister, that are completely absent from the amendments before us today. The MLA for Klondike went on and on about how, if insurance is cancelled, the licence needs to be revoked. He went on to also say that licence plates need to be revoked, and hereís his argument ó and it is with merit. The member said that in the Yukon if you have an operating authority, as soon as your insurance is cancelled, your insurance carrier has to notify the Motor Transport Board and your plates are automatically revoked. He went on to say that driving without insurance is a problem here in the Yukon, especially for out-of-territory licensed vehicles and for vehicles licensed here in the Yukon. Your licence tags expire on a certain date but your insurance doesnít necessarily expire on the same day. So there has to be a mechanism to ensure that vehicles are at least insured. Why canít we do something with that?

Then he went on to attack the minister in quite a personal way.

057a

Mr. Chair, this law has not changed since 1998. This law could have been changed. Why isnít there some mechanism for some reporting authorities, some agency, somebody out there to notify the insurance company, to notify the department and automatically revoke the licence plates as soon as the insurance is cancelled? Can the minister answer that question?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, the administrative changes that I refer to are to correct errors in the actual act itself, but there are substantive changes in the act being brought forward. Weíve tasked the advisory committee to review situations for us and to provide suggestions on how we can improve them. We went out to the general public to get feedback on those items, and we brought forth.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a very large act. The member opposite also agrees with me on that particular issue in that particular venue. He goes on at great length about one of my colleagues with regard to the insurance issue. I will state that he is more than free to do that, but we have a task to do. We went to the advisory committee; we asked them to make improvements to the Motor Vehicles Act, to assist us, and this is what we did.

058a

For us to go wide band across the Motor Vehicles Act would have required substantially more time and also, as he indicated, much more consultation to go out and get all of these issues, because Iím sure there would be many more issues than the one heís describing.

Mr. McRobb:   Well, the minister is right there, Mr. Chair. I am going to bring up a few more issues, also suggested by the MLA for Klondike when he was leader of the Yukon Party, the third party in the last term, in the last session of this Assembly. Certainly the need to revoke plates once insurance is cancelled for drivers is only one of them. But there are a few things the minister said that are rather surprising.

Obviously this consultation was rushed. Well, why was it rushed? This government had two years to get it right ó two years is a long time. That is more than enough time for any process involving the public or focus groups or agencies, other governments, on practically anything, yet the process was rushed. Now, the act is a lengthy document ó everybody can agree to that ó but not everybody needs to read the full act. I think itís incumbent upon the minister and this government to solicit concerns about the act from Yukoners and to prioritize concerns.

059a

One would have thought this government would at least have followed through on items it chastised the previous government for not including. Now, the measure identified was only one of about half a dozen items Iím going to go through this afternoon.

So letís establish what the Yukon Party has failed to do here. It has failed to do anything to ensure that licence plates on vehicles are revoked after the insurance has been cancelled for people driving a motor vehicle in the territory. It has refused to do anything about that even though it was a major concern to the Yukon Party leader in the last term in this Assembly. Itís all on record. If anybody cares to do an Internet search through Hansard, itís all there.

The third issue I want to discuss is in regard to child restraint devices. Once again Iíll ask for the indulgence of the minister and his assistants.

060a

Can the minister indicate what vehicles require these devices and when this law was last changed?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   All vehicles generally require child restraints except for motor vehicles that were manufactured before 1965: taxis, school buses, transit buses, motor coaches, emergency vehicles and motorhomes.

Mr. McRobb:  † Well, that confirms that another one of the issues identified by the previous leader of the Yukon Party in the last session has not been followed up on by this Yukon Party government. He asked ó the Premier shows no remorse, I should say on the record.

The previous leader asked about school buses. He wanted school buses to include child restraint devices. Letís look at what he said. Letís do that now. He said that, ďBecause this government is void of ideas with respect to what to do with the economy, the smokescreen that is coming up is all of these other acts and bills. Well, letís deal with it. There are other areas that are problematic that are not being addressed. We can insist that rental vehicles have child restraint devices. That is great; I donít have a quarrel with that. But at the same time, how do we still allow our school buses to transport our students back and forth to school in a bus that doesnít have seatbelts? Someone ainít doing their homework.Ē

061a

Thatís a direct quote from the previous leader, who also, for the record, shows no signs of remorse. He went on to say that whatís good on one hand is not good on the other.† ďWhat are we saying here?Ē he queried. I think itís probably appropriate, given the thought that was given to these amendments, that the minister gives some consideration to taking it off the table ó that would have been the bill ó go back and have a look at it and rework it. There are many, many other areas that lend themselves to change, to improve this act, and improve the safety and enforcement standards, but we seem to go overboard on one hand and on the other hand they just leave it alone and ignore it.

This is quite vile language and itís rather amazing that after two years these amendments brought in by the very same Yukon Party are completely void of any requirement for child restraint devices on school buses. Can the minister explain why not?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I will state for the member opposite on the bus issue that that is currently under a federal responsibility, and they are looking into that particular aspect on our buses in conjunction with the manufacturers of school buses, because school buses, as the member opposite well knows, are specially constructed vehicles made for the safety of the schoolchildren who are on that bus. Currently the Province of Ontario is looking into that procedure right now, and they are working on it. We are monitoring that situation as we speak. Until such time as we get the results coming from Ontario, we will look into that.

062a

On the issues, Iíd like to bring a little bit of information for the member opposite and maybe jog his memory a little bit. In 1997, when that member was sitting on this side of the House drafting up motor vehicle regulations, we were also dealing with administrative issues, and there were only a small number of issues brought up that went to the public for consultation, and it took them a couple of years to get theirs done. So if the member opposite wants to get into whatís good for the goose is good for the gander, then maybe we can do that.

But right now I would like to state that we asked the advisory council to make recommendations on how we could improve the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act, and they selected these items and asked us to make those corrections. There was a substantial amount of consultation done with those involved in the process as well as those directly involved in reviewing all those items. So we went forth with those issues. We tried to be very specific in the consultation to ensure that we had a very good cross-section of Yukoners in our survey and that it was representative of all Yukoners.

The member asked on several occasions why we hadnít done this. I ask the member why it wasnít done back then. Why wasnít it done in the previous party? Why wasnít anything done on a lot of these issues? I will take this even a little bit further. We are moving along on this particular issue. The member opposite talks about what these issues on insurance are. One of those issues may be that the next time the act comes up for review it will be looked at. Quite frankly, Iím hoping that the next review of the act will be the entire act.

063a

Iím hoping thatís what takes place, but as the member well knows from his own personal experience with his small number of amendments, it took awhile to get underway, and there were even some questions about that particular process.

Weíre trying to deal with even some of those changes made back then. I will not pretend that we have all the right answers ó not for once, not even in this House. Iím saying that weíre making the best efforts to correct the situation, to enhance it so that our officers can have a clear process on whatís needed and what they have to do when they are in this particular situation. And we are working on that particular venue.

The member talks about two years. The tow truck incident took place last summer, and so we didnít rush this process. We really did have to look at this process. We felt these were major concerns that arose back in the summer of 2003. We took a responsible approach. We consulted with people. We developed an advisory group. They came back to us and said, ďNot good enough.Ē Okay. ďNot good enough. We have to go out and get further consultation, and it has to be in this means.Ē And we did that. That took a little time, and we did it. We got the information back. They came back to us with their recommendations and we brought them forward in the House. Iím here to say that this is what we have before us.

064a

Mr. McRobb:   I thank the minister for his explanation. For the record, I donít have a problem with what the minister is saying. If I trust anybody over there, I think this member rates the highest. I believe that heís not at fault for overlooking the amendments Iím identifying. I think the onus to have included these falls on others in his government. Iíve identified most of them already. We do have to look at the public good, and what about next time, and so on and so forth.

Mr. Chair, if these issues are not raised at this time, with departmental officials also here who are basically a corporate knowledge in this respect because it could very likely be a different government dealing with this act next time, they could fall through the cracks again. I take note that the minister said this issue of child restraint devices in school buses is being monitored, and thatís good. That means itís on the radar screen, itís on the active list ó thatís good ó but perhaps not all six of these issues are treated with that kind of priority. So I do want to go through them now.

In addition, the minister went back to 1998 and asked the question of why the previous government didnít deal with it. Well, Mr. Chair, I had very little to do with that act and maybe he should look at his own leader and Premier who probably had more to do with it than I did at the time.

065a

We should avoid some finger pointing here and instead ó

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Mr. McRobb:  † Well, the Premier said that he opposed it. That notion does sound familiar to me so we were probably lucky bringing forward the amendments we did back in 1998.

Humour aside, there is seriousness to the amendments I am raising now because we are dealing with public safety on our roads and highways, and that is important to Yukoners. In terms of accountability, it is our responsibility on the opposition side of the House to bring some fire to the toes of the government, especially in cases like this when they said one thing but now do another. My research has uncovered half a dozen items that were good enough for the Yukon Party in opposition; apparently theyíre not good enough for them in government.

I want to move on to the fourth item. It pertains to people riding in the back of pickup trucks on highways and roads. Can the minister indicate what the current law is and when it was last changed?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, itís section 193 of the act and it was last changed in 1998.

Mr. McRobb:   Can the minister indulge us with what the current law states in terms of people riding in the back of pickup trucks? Are there exemptions pertaining to age or anything at all, or is it just openly allowed?

066a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The act states that no person shall ride or permit any other person to ride on the outside of a motor vehicle. Subsection 1 does not apply to a person riding on a regular seat or a motorcycle, moped or snowmobile and in the box of a truck so long as the person is at least seven years old and is seated with their waist below the top of the box or railing securely attached to all sides of the box.

Mr. McRobb:   Does the ministerís amendments provide for any change to that section?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Weíll be making a change under section 193(2)(a) of the act.

Mr. McRobb:   Can the minister elaborate for us as to how heís proposing to change that section?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   ďMopedĒ is being revoked because itís included under motorcycle.

Mr. McRobb:   That has nothing to do with the safety of somebody riding in the back of a pickup truck, so Iím glad I followed up on that one. Now letís take a look at what the Member for Klondike said when he was leader of the Yukon Party in the last term of government.

067a

He went on to chastise the former minister. I guess thatís twice removed, because weíre talking about a former MLA for Lake Laberge, not the former MLA for Riverside, who was the most recent former minister under the previous government. The Member for Klondike indicated that he wanted to see the law changed. He said that there are many, many other areas that lend themselves to change to improve this act and improve the safety and enforcement standards. He went on to give the example of riding in the back of a pickup. He said that ďÖto get in the back of a pickup and go tootling down the highway at 90k. Ö It is not even addressed. And why not, Mr. Speaker? Probably because this minister doesnít understand her portfolio, and this was just thrown on her desk, and she looked at it, ĎOh, yeah, sure, fine.í But letís get into the nitty-gritty of it. The Ďnitty-grittyí is that this not going to do very much to address the hard-core problems that we have here in the Yukon.Ē He went on to say that he expected a lot more from this Liberal government. Well, Mr. Chair, once again, it was good enough for the Yukon Party just a few years ago, but itís not good enough for them now. This Yukon Party government could have changed the act with respect to people riding in the back of pickup trucks to make the highways safer and to provide greater safety for Yukon citizens and others using our roads and highways, but it neglected to do so.

068a

What did the Member for Klondike do over there ó burn all his binders after he was elected in government? Did he forget about what he had put on the record the previous two and a half years and the three and a half years before that? I canít figure it out.

So let the record show that this Yukon Party government didnít live up to the same standards it expected the previous government to uphold with respect to changing the laws of the Motor Vehicles Act to prohibit people riding in the back of pickup trucks.

Letís now move on to the fifth issue, which is impaired driving. Now, itís my understanding that a person who teaches driving has a zero tolerance level with respect to blood-alcohol levels. In other words, if somebody has a learnerís licence and wants to drive on Yukon roads and highways, an adult has to accompany them with a valid Yukon driverís licence, and at all times that adult must have a zero-percent blood-alcohol rating. If that understanding is incorrect, I would invite the minister to point it out.

But what about being under the influence of prescription drugs, Mr. Chair? This was important to the Member for Klondike. What does the existing law say and when was it last changed?

069a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, the co-driver must have no alcohol in their blood and their ability to operate the motor vehicle must not be impaired by drugs or any other substance that is introduced by their body. But impaired driving is a federal law and it is covered under the Criminal Code and that is where the major aspect is being covered.

Mr. McRobb:   That wasnít good enough for the previous leader of the Yukon Party. Letís look at what he said. He said, ďLetís start looking at some of the other areas that are going to be problems. An amendment is added that a person who teaches driving is to have a zero blood-alcohol level and not be impaired by any drugs.Ē Okay. What about prescription drugs? What about a diabetic? Their insulin level goes up and down, things change. Where is that covered off? I canít find it anywhere. I can agree with illegal drugs, I have no quarrel including those, but they are against the law anyway.

He went on to say, ďThese amendments havenít been given a lot of forethought. It looks like they were scrambled together at the last minute. It looks like they are a series of wish lists from somewhere ó I donít know where ó and we have them before us in this House.Ē And so on and so forth ó he railed on to this previous minister about that. I recall this. I could hear his words from back then.

070a

It was not all that long ago. I can hear his stinging words penetrating the still air of this Legislature and whacking this previous minister with the reality and harshness ó the full harshness ó of the question. I remember thinking at the time, wow, if Yukoners are ever so unfortunate that that member ever gets elected in the government, heíd better pull his socks up and beware of all these items that heís chastising that government about. Heíd better have a long do list if he makes it into government. And here we are a few years later. Well, we know how long his do list is. Letís see, what is it? Itís build a bridge in Dawson, itís build a seniors centre in Dawson, take over Dawsonís city council and, oh, the highways budget ó remember that? The highways budget across the territory for operation and maintenance was drastically cut and it was all funnelled into the Klondike area. Thatís four things. You know, if I had a few more minutes, I could probably get it up to about 10, but thatís quite enough. So his do list completely excluded the very things that he held the previous government accountable for and wanted them to bring in.

So itís rather amazing when one considers the process for developing legislation in the Yukon ó and I am somewhat familiar with that process. Iím aware there is a committee referred to as the Cabinet Committee on Legislation, or CCL. Iím also aware of the Cabinet process in which any legislation must be approved first before it is released. And there are less formal means, such as a process to include all caucus and all staff.

071a

Now, there is continuity between what happened in the last term and several members upstairs in the executive offices. There are two or three staff people who are the same. One of the ministers now was one of those staff people in the last term ó the Minister of Tourism and Culture. The principal secretary was the chief of staff for the previous leader who challenged the Liberal government on these items. There were also temporary workers who were employed in the Yukon Party office when they were in opposition, who are employed upstairs.

There are probably lots of others who are connected to the government in the inside circle ó the backroom circle, if you will ó who should have done something about including these suggestions in the amendments. Itís practically unbelievable that what the previous leader challenged the government on are not included in this Yukon Party flagship legislation in this mid sitting of its term in government.

Well, talk about shooting blanks, Mr. Chair. This is a big one. This bill could have included substantial measures, but it came up far short.

The minister talks about opportunities in the future to amend the act. Well, when is that going to happen? Letís see, this Yukon Partyís clock runs out in two years ó in the fall of 2006. Itís very unlikely there would be a legislative sitting. There is a chance that they might call an election the prior spring, in which case, there will be no spring sitting in 2006.

072a

Given the chance an election could be called next fall, the fall of 2005 ó I see the lights come on over there in their eyes. That could be their plan: to surprise the opposition and catch them early ó thatís it ó to get re-elected.

Well such plans are self-serving and go against the public trust, and any trickery wonít be tolerated by the Yukon public, who are waiting for an opportunity to cast their ballots in a much different way than they did November 4, 2002 ó except in Kluane, I might add.

If this minister is fortunate enough to also be on the exclusion list, perhaps heíll be afforded an opportunity in the ranks of the third party to raise some of the questions I am today, which is another incentive for me to mention them, because it saves him from going back further in Hansard to find his questions.

On the impaired driving, the person whoís teaching a driver has zero tolerance. A person who is driving has the tolerance of .08 blood-alcohol level. What the previous leader of the Yukon Party wanted was a standardized level. He wanted the level to be standardized, because it would cause less confusion and it would be a good thing to have a standard number.

So I would like to ask the minister if he has given that any thought, and is a standard number included within the amendments heís bringing before this House?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I donít know whether to get up after that. With regard to the member oppositeís question about driving without insurance ó insurance is required to operate a motor vehicle. It has been there under section 72(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act. Section 83(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act requires an owner of the vehicle to produce valid proof of insurance when registering a vehicle.

073a

It is an offence under section 87 of the Motor Vehicles Act to obtain registration of a motor vehicle when it is not insured. In June of 2002 was the last change of this particular act, for the member opposite.

I listened to the member opposite. I hope I listened to him all the way, but I trust the hon. member will commit to ensuring that every change he suggested in his questioning of the debate in 2000 would be made should the NDP government and Mr. McRobb get into power, and I guess we will work from that.

Chairís statement

Chair:   Order please. I will just remind members that it is inappropriate to mention members by name in this Assembly.

 

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The Member for Kluane ó how is that?

The member has gone on at great length with regard to issues outside of what are the limits of what is being brought forth here. And he has gone out of his way to express the issues with regard to a previous member with regard to these issues. I admit that there are changes that can be made to the Motor Vehicles Act. There will be changes that can be made to the Motor Vehicles Act after you do the full process. There will be changes in the Motor Vehicles Act because there is always something happening in the motor vehicle industry.

But I would like to express for the member opposite that the Yukon still has some of the strongest driving-while-impaired regulations in Canada ó you know, roadside suspensions, operator licence 24-hour set aside ó these things all take effect and, again, theyíre all to ensure that our roads are safe for those who are innocent bystanders and those utilizing our roads in the normal process.

074a

Mr. McRobb:   Thatís all fine and dandy. The minister can talk about future changes to the act, but what I was getting at before is that the only sure opportunity for this government to introduce legislation is only during the spring sitting, which happens in a few months. In order for that to happen, one would surely hope that public consultation would have started before now. I am not aware of anything happening with respect to further amendments to this act. It would raise the question: ďWhy didnít the Yukon Party just include those amendments in this opportunity?Ē They could have easily included them among the items for discussion, consultation, and we could have had debate here in the Legislature. Instead, both items didnít make the list.

What the Member for Klondike suggested was lowering everything to a standard level of .05, because he wanted some consistent standard across the board. Can the minister indicate if that suggestion is among his proposed amendments?

Hon. Mr. Hart:  For us to lower any of the rates it would have to be done through the federal code. Weíre not allowed to make those changes.

Mr. McRobb:   I donít understand. If the Yukon government is not allowed to make those changes, why did the previous Yukon Party leader demand the Liberal government make those changes? That doesnít quite add up, because we all know his questions and suggestions were all very good and accurate.

075a

Now letís move on to the final area. It deals with a very similar issue. What tolerance level should be allowed for operating vehicles like a school bus? The Member for Klondike asked why not an amendment that if you operate a school bus or if you operate anything with a motor transport licence on it, you have zero alcohol level. He criticized the Liberal government for not even suggesting it. He went on to say that, ďIt would make a heck of a lot more sense to me than it does to have the person accompanying a driver thatís just in the learning process to have a zero level. All Iím asking is for something thatís workable, something thatís consistent and something that addresses the safety issues. The safety issues are out there and recognized. This goes a little way, but it doesnít go far enough.Ē It didnít go far enough back then and it doesnít go far enough now, but the point is a good one. Why should society tolerate any blood-alcohol level for drivers of school buses and other vehicles with a motor transport licence?

076a

Is it okay for a school bus driver to have three or four beers and then go drive a vehicle? I should say not. I use the number four, Mr. Chair, because, conceivably, a bus driver can have four beers or four ounces of liquor and not break an impaired driver test, because of the time lag between the second blow on the Borkenstein breathalizer machine and the time of his last drink, which is probably about an hour, in practicality. So in that one hour the driver could easily have burned off one of those drinks and is really only tested with three drinks in his or her system. The standard rule of thumb is that with three drinks youíre okay.

So is it all right for a school bus driver to have three or four beers and then go drive the bus? Because apparently that is what the law says.

Now, I know that the minister is getting advice from his department officials on this. If Iím wrong, I would invite the minister to indicate where.

My question is this: is this the law, and if it is, why isnít it being changed?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The member opposite is asking me to speculate. I am not about to give legal advice here on the floor. I will try to respond to the member oppositeís question. I will state that there is a 24-hour suspension if the driver of a bus, as in this particular case he refers to, blows any alcohol. Thatís under our Motor Vehicles Act.

077a

Zero alcohol levels for professional drivers is still being examined in many parts of Canada and we are monitoring that process. Right now, some groups have petitioned the federal government to lower that rate from .08 to .05 but, again, thatís under the Criminal Code of Canada and they determine the level of impaired driving on that particular aspect.

As I mentioned, I know that Quebec and New Brunswick are looking at the zero tolerance levels for alcohol but we are also monitoring that particular situation. In essence itís the federal government that determines the level and our local practice here for the RCMP that anybody picked up with alcohol on their breath has a 24-hour suspension on that level.

Mr. McRobb:   Obviously what was good enough for the Yukon Party in opposition isnít good enough for the Yukon Party in government, and thatís not good enough for Yukoners.

I want to ask for a bit of detail on what the minister just said. He indicated there is a 24-hour suspension for drivers of school buses. Can he indicate under what circumstances that penalty could be issued? Is it for having a blood-alcohol level of less than .08, above .08 or any at all ó just the smell of alcohol on the driverís breath? What is it?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The practice is from .05 to .079.

Mr. McRobb:   Thatís quite interesting because what that reveals is that the point of my question is extremely valid. What the minister is saying is that a school bus driver can have probably up to four beers, go drive the school bus and not go over the limit of .08.

078a

To fall within the window identified by the minister ó which is essentially between .08 and .05 ó it probably takes one drink. The driver can have three beers, go drive the school bus, and avoid even having a 24-hour suspension. Isnít that great? If the driver miscalculates or has an additional drink, then the driver is facing a 24-hour suspension. Well, whoop-dee-doo. Thatís not good enough.

Some people might think it is absurd to consider a notion of a school bus driver having three or four drinks before going on duty, because in Whitehorse that driver comes into contact with the general public and certainly would be taking a risk of being reported and so on. But, Mr. Chair, as in the case of so many other things in the territory, we have to consider the extreme example. The extreme example could be a small community like Old Crow or Ross River and so on, where a school bus driver does not actually come into contact with many members of the public other than the children being transported. I donít know if there is a school bus in Old Crow; I think there was one for the community a couple of years ago. The leader of the Liberal party is holding up her hand and saying, ďWe did that.Ē I think that was the case. So although, I seem to recall it only happened after plenty of urging from our member, the MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin.

079a

One can only look back in Hansard, and Iím sure you can find lots of questions about the Old Crow bus. So there are some examples like the ones Iíve identified that are cause for concern, because it is conceivable that a driver could almost repeatedly get away without being detected.

In addition, Mr. Chair, in some of these communities there are no full-time police officers. Letís consider what some of those communities are. Does Swift River have a full-time police officer? Does Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay have full-time police officers? The answer is no. So there could be a high probability of a driver with an alcohol problem escaping detection. The question is: should that be tolerated?

I think we as legislators need to set the bar high to avoid any abuse of the laws with respect to drinking and driving, especially in cases of drivers who are trusted by the public with the lives of several others, such as our schoolchildren. Does anybody argue with that? Hold up your hand. Mr. Chair, itís unanimous. We all feel the same way. So why arenít we doing something about it? It was good enough for the Yukon Party leader a few years ago in opposition. He chastised a previous Highways minister for not including it among the housekeeping items for amendment. This is the Yukon Partyís flagship legislation in this mid-term sitting.

080a

So where is it? Itís not there. I hope Iím making the point sufficiently to drive home the importance of this and maybe embarrass somebody over there into realizing that these members shouldnít have taken the summer off. They should have been doing their homework. They should have ensured that what the previous leader stood for a few years ago was something they should all be standing up for now.

So obviously thereís no change being contemplated in this amendment, and I would like to conclude my questioning by just stating on the record that, once again, the Yukon Party has failed to stand up to the same standard it expected of a previous government.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   All this last process is all hypothetical, based on what the process is. The federal Minister of Justice, Mr. Irwin Coulter, in Ottawa is responsible for impaired driving and that particular issue, and thatís his imperative. I will also state that even MADD is arguing with the federal government to reduce the level to 0.05 for that particular aspect, so they are working on that also. But for us to change the law, itís federal jurisdiction.

081a

Ms. Duncan:   Itís a pleasure to enter into this debate with the minister. I would like to offer a compliment to the Member for Kluane, who quite rightly has asked why the former leader of the Yukon Party could stand and insist that a series of amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act were absolutely imperative but, upon finding himself in government, has not brought them forward, and has had two years.

The whole principle and integrity of being a politician and being elected to this Legislature is to do what you say youíll do. I quite agree and saw some horrified expressions from members of this Legislature at the fact that our Motor Vehicles Act allows people to travel around the highways in the back of a pickup truck.

I recall my former colleague debating that at length with the then minister. It would be a straightforward amendment to bring forward. Why didnít the government do it? Itís a very legitimate question. It was vitally important.

During the time we had in office, yes, we brought forward a number of amendments, including the interlock device. Now, we didnít get to that one. We had as much time there as the minister has had. It was an issue; it still is an issue. Not very many people realized that law until it was brought up. As I said, there were a number of horrified expressions.

So, let me be, perhaps, a little kinder with the minister. What is the governmentís intention regarding future amendments to this act? Are they going to look at some of the suggestions that were very important to the Member for Klondike when he was last in opposition?

082a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I indicated, I fully expect that, unless itís something that just requires a small amendment, the next change to the Motor Vehicles Act will be a full review. As I mentioned before, even after that I suspect youíll still have to make changes because the act changes, because motor vehicle changes all the time.

For example, if we go through the process of a full consultation process, Ottawa changes the act from .0 to .8, weíll have to turn around and do the same thing ó weíll have to make amendments to the act.

If weíre looking at these processes, weíre probably looking at the next change being to take the act ó and the member opposite will probably concur with me, I hope. Weíve made so many changes to it now itís getting difficult to follow through the whole process.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate the memberís frustration, however it was so ó I hope he can also appreciate the logic of the argument thatís being presented to him that these changes the minister has brought forward to a very complex act ó weíve agreed on that point, itís a very complex act. There was a full-scale review and rewrite not that long ago, certainly within the lifetime of many members of this Legislature.

The fundamental question being asked of the minister is: these amendments could come forward, the amendments we have before us could come forward, and theyíre billed as relatively minor and theyíre in response to some federal government changes, so why arenít those changes that were so vitally important to the Member for Klondike then on the table?

083a

They are not. Itís unfortunate, because you should do what you say youíll do. So is the minister telling us and telling Yukoners that the next step for the Motor Vehicles Act is going to be a full-scale, front-to-back review, or is there some possibility we might see some minor changes or the amendments that were a major issue for the Member for Klondike when he was last in opposition? Will we see any of those come forward, or is it just a full-scale review?

Hon. Mr. Hart:  For the member opposite, we are monitoring situations in other jurisdictions ó things that are happening in Ontario with regard to distractions. We are looking at that particular aspect. Those things may come up and will have to be dealt with. At the same time we may bring up some of the same issues as the members opposite ó the Member for Kluane as well as her ó with regard to the Member for Klondike. That may be something that has to be done to bring up the code. In essence, as I mentioned, I am hoping that we will be in a position to get underway and move forward with the Motor Vehicles Act from scratch.

Ms. Duncan:  Does the minister have a sense of the time frame?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, I suspect that it will take a substantial amount of time to go through the process. I recall that it took approximately two years to get through 13 amendments in the last process.

†084a

It took a little bit more for the previous on that, and we are still correcting or trying to correct some of those deficiencies in that type of venue. I expect it will take awhile to get going, because we will have to go through the process to identify how we can clean up the act and then go out to the public to find out how we can correct some of the situations that were brought forth here today as well as what may be brought forth by the public, as well as what may be brought forth from Ottawa.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, as I understand the processes that the minister has just laid out, weíre talking about kind of a period of information gathering, what are the problems with the act, and then perhaps some form of a consultation process. There have been a number of different forms tried. There has been a committee; there has been a full-scale public consultation. These amendments were a survey. Other amendments have been a survey ó a more extensive survey. And then, of course, legislative drafting takes a great deal of time. So weíre looking at some ó yes, it takes forever. The minister is quite right. To write good legislation, it takes time. Weíre looking some years down the road before a full-scale review of the Motor Vehicles Act, is what I gathered from that kind of an outline of the process. So some years down the road ó it would be past the next election. Have I understood the minister correctly?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As she can appreciate and she well knows, we will be looking at that particular process and it will probably take us past that process of the next election to get out there.

085a

But I feel ó and as I mentioned earlier ó we may have to come forth with changes that have to be done in order for us to operate within the Yukon, either from changes in motor vehicle ó whatever it may be ó and it may well be situations brought up by members opposite. I think weíll have to deal with them as they come. I can assure the member opposite that weíll be looking at this process. Itís going to take a long time. This is a large piece of legislation. It has gone through many amendments and many changes. I believe itís going to take a long time to get through the process, but Iím not discounting the fact that we may have to come back to make a change to it to basically operate within the Yukon.

Ms. Duncan:   So what the minister said is that the major rewrite is going to take some time, but he hasnít ruled out the thought that he might have to bring this back to the Legislature. If the federal House of Commons makes some changes to the Criminal Code, weíll have to keep up. So there might be some minor amendments. We might see another Motor Vehicles Act amendment in the life of this government. If thatís the case, is the minister prepared then to ó

Some of the issues that were raised by the Member for Kluane, which the Member for Klondike had raised, are federal government. I would not put the current minister through what the former minister had to endure on that respect.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan:   I wouldnít do it.

The one, however, that is unique to the Yukon is the riding in the back of a pickup truck, and that could be done. So if the minister is contemplating some minor amendments as a result of issues from Ottawa or changes to the Criminal Code, will the minister consider dealing with that Yukon issue and that amendment in the next legislative sitting?

086a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I mentioned previously, if in fact we get something from Ottawa that does require us to go forth and basically come into line with the federal legislation, yes, we will have to bring it forth, as I mentioned, in order for us to operate.

I will state that no government in Canada or any other jurisdiction really has got motor vehicle law in a final state. Itís always a moving target in the process. I happen to know that Ontario is going through a fairly substantial aspect on their own with regard to motor vehicles.

But I will not indicate to the member opposite that we wonít come back. There is a possibility that we may come back. I never want to rule it out because I can see from the member opposite that I may have to have Hansard presented to me again. But I will endeavour to look at the act from a total review and if I do have to come back, it will be for the sake of dealing with issues from Ottawa and/or things that require us to come through in order for us to operate.

Ms. Duncan:   I understand that motor vehicles acts are quite literally moving targets. The minister has said that if he has to come back because of changes made by Ottawa, he will. But the direct question I asked was: if he has to come back to the House with changes from Ottawa, will he also include in those changes, changes to that specific part of the act that deals with young children riding around in the back of a pickup truck?

087a

As I understand it, we are one of the few jurisdictions where that happens. Will he consider bringing that back as well?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, as well as for the Member for Kluane, when we look at that, weíll look at all the suggestions brought forth here today.

Ms. Duncan:   The minister has mentioned the other acts across the country and keeping up with changes from Ottawa. I would just like to address the issue of legislation across the rest of the country. How is the rest of the country dealing with issues around the elderly or the infirm and their driverís licences? I know in the Yukon we require individuals over the age of 65 to obtain a medical every year. Thatís a good thing. The issue I am thinking of is, as I understand it, that some provinces, if an individual suffers a stroke, limit their driving. Itís sort of a reversed graduated driverís licensing at the end of your driver career, so to speak. Is the minister aware of what the trend is across the country and has this issue of how the elderly obtain their driverís licence been raised with the minister.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For the member opposite, I donít have at my fingertips what all of the other jurisdictions do, but there are 12 or 13 other jurisdictions that have different rules and regulations with regard to this. CCMTA is looking at these various laws and trying to see if there is some continuity with them.

With regard to the Yukon, my mother-in-law passes the medical. Fortunately I donít have to have her driving, but it is a situation that we do. I personally have lost my licence for a medical reason and I donít have any choice in that particular matter.

088a

And so we do have regulations in place that deal with the elderly as well as those for medical reasons, and theyíre fairly ó and I will tell you personally, first-hand, that I didnít really appreciate my first suspension, but I understand it.

Ms. Duncan:   Mr. Chair, the minister has my sympathies. Iím trying to wrestle with this issue from a personal perspective as well as from that of some of my constituents. I wonder if the minister could just state ó we have the elderly, or those over the age of 65 ó theyíre not elderly, but they go for their physical every year, and thereís a relationship between the doctor, the patient and the motor vehicle licence. So there is a connection there. There is nowhere in that flow of information for the family, as I understand it, from the Yukon regulations. So there is no one ó who does the family make representations to, that says, ďYou know what, Uncle Harry probably shouldnít be driving. Iíve been in the vehicle with him.Ē That process ó if the minister could outline what the process is in the Yukon and then if his understanding is, as mine is, that there is no avenue for the family to make representation in that.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The trend in dealing with the elderly is basically that the family can contact the registrar and bring the concern to him and deal with it through him and go from that particular process.

089a

Thatís the only venue we have for the family in dealing directly with the hypothetical uncle.

Ms. Duncan:   Once an individual has been told that they are not going to have their driverís licence renewed or that their licence is being revoked for a medical reason, what is the process at that point? How does that work? This does relate to the act because we are dealing with an amendment that talks about how a person is notified. But I want to know the process from the public service perspective. What happens?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Yes, this one I can get out because I know exactly how this one works. Youíre notified your licence is cancelled and basically itís cancelled for a specific date and period. It identifies in the letter from the registrar how and when it will be reinstated. The letter comes to you. It states that, ďI regretfully have to inform you that your licence has been cancelled for medical reasons,Ē as advised by whatever physician advises him of the situation, and under the act he has no real discretion, I guess. He has to follow that act and basically whatever the medical reason is, your licence is suspended for that period of time.

Ms. Duncan:   I appreciate the minister outlining that. Now, in the amendments in the act before us, it indicates ó and itís part 5 of Bill No. 51. Iím not getting into line-by-line, but Iím just speaking about generally in the act this is something weíre dealing with, and weíre amending it to add that electronically we can notify someone.

090a

So an individual could get an e-mail. It says that pursuant to section yadda yadda yadda, and physician report X, your licence has been suspended, so then the person doesnít drive, hopefully. Then their vehicle would be subject to impoundment, and thatís in a different part of the act, as I understand it.

The problem I have with this is that I believe we could handle this far more compassionately than what weíre doing. Because, once having received the letter, as I understand it, if your licence is not surrendered, it will be seized either when youíre driving or the Yukon government will send someone for it. That isnít a compassionate way to deal with this issue. Itís a loss of independence for people. Itís an incredibly difficult thing. Itís difficult for the family, and itís most especially difficult for the individual.

I would ask the minister to examine how other jurisdictions are handling it, to examine it from a Yukon perspective and determine if there is a more compassionate way in which this situation might be approached.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I have a very personal experience in this particular situation ó I received a letter and, as I stated, the first letter that I received, I wasnít too happy about.

091a

After sitting for awhile with my physician, I could sort of accept his reasoning and his issues with the situation. Also we have to look at the other side of the aspect too, and that is the safety of not only the individual ó in that case myself ó but the safety of the other drivers on the highway. I am only explaining for the member opposite what was explained to me. That too is a very important factor. But, as I mentioned, we will look at other jurisdictions to see how they are dealing with it.

On some issues, for example, really there is limited choice to deal with strokes, seizures ó there is no if, ands and maybes with those particular issues. We have limited choices. Families have to understand that. I can tell you that it was an extreme hardship for my family. In my case, my truck sat in my garage for a year ó not once, but twice. I had to walk and I had to take the bus and I did it. I have to tell you that some days I wasnít too happy about it.

092a

But I understood, and I think we have to look at that other side.

The member opposite talked about an uncle driving who shouldnít be driving. I think families often are quite concerned about elderly people driving when they shouldnít be. I think that is an issue, and as we all grow older, this is going to become a much bigger issue for a lot more of us, and Iím hoping that ó as the member said ó we will get into that situation, but we have to look at the safety of ourselves and the safety of the other people who are utilizing the road. But as I mentioned, we are actually monitoring other jurisdictions with regard to how theyíre dealing with the compassionate aspect. But as Iíve mentioned, in some cases we have to look at the safety of everybody.

Ms. Duncan:  And the safety of everyone was the reason I brought this up. And itís also because I too have had personal experience with this, and itís extremely difficult. I can appreciate that the minister came to an understanding. Itís not so easy for persons much older than the minister to come to the same understanding. If there is some way that we can ensure that there is a follow-up discussion with the physician and the driver or that there is some compassion built in the way we get these licences, I would just respectfully request that we do that. I know we demand a great deal of our public servants and they do a terrific job. Letís give them as many tools as we can to work with the public, because it is about the safety of everybody on the roads. Itís a terribly difficult subject for everybody. And, as the minister quite rightly pointed out, weíre all getting older too, and weíre all going to be faced with it, so if thereís something we can do to do it better, I would suggest that we do that.

093a

I am concerned that the amendments propose ďelectronically notifying individualsĒ. I understand e-commerce; our government brought it in. I would hazard a guess that most of the people weíre sending these letters to are elderly, however, and they may or may not be checking their e-mail every day. Itís ďor electronicallyĒ that is considered notification. I wonder if that shouldnít read ďand electronicallyĒ. Thatís just a heads-up for the minister. Has that been considered by the department?

094a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Currently Alberta has this law. For us, it is merely a future aspect. We are currently following our current procedure, the letter being the first and foremost way of introducing it to the clients. As the member opposite indicated, not everybody has that service. Itís there for future use for us and in lieu of the fact that, as time moves on, it could be utilized in that fashion.

Right now we are utilizing our current procedure and the letter is the foremost way because, as the member opposite mentioned, in most cases it deals with our elderly and they are not exactly computer literate in some cases. Itís in there for us for future cases and we are following the procedure, the letter being our primary way of informing.

Ms. Duncan:   Earlier we talked about keeping pace with the rest of the country. The federal government can make changes and we have to keep pace with them and we can also have a situation where we look at other jurisdictions.

095a

In MADDís ó Mothers Against Drunk Driving ó most recent newsletter in the fall of 2004, it is noted in the progress report, and Iíll just quote a short section: ďProvinces and territories only need to look at one anotherís legislation to set in place effective measures to improve Canadian safety from impaired driving tragedies. Canadians would be much safer if we had consistency in our laws and in our approach to this crime from sea to sea to sea.Ē

I would like to ask the minister: are our impoundment laws consistent with the rest of the provincial legislation, particularly in relation to commercial vehicles?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Basically, most other jurisdictions are catching up to us. They donít have impoundment issues. With the change in our 1997 amendments, we are basically ahead of everyone else in that process.

Ms. Duncan:   The amendments as proposed by the government allow commercial companies to get their vehicles back early. Does this make our roads more safe or less safe?

096a

Hon. Mr. Hart:  The issue of whether they get the truck back early or not has really no differential on the safety of our roads one way or the other. The truck isnít intoxicated, the driver is intoxicated; or the vehicle isnít intoxicated, the driver is intoxicated. I donít think that has any variance on whether it is safe or not. The issue is that the driver is dealt with under the Criminal Code on the impaired aspect and he is dealt with. That is a key element.

As the member opposite talks about MADD, I have also received a recent notification from MADD that they have had a change in leadership. They have also complained about the fact that it is difficult to get jurisdictions to be harmonized, I guess if you want to call it, in that process.† But letís not forget that itís the federal government that leads the way in this process, and if they can get into that venue then maybe we can follow suit, and weíll make an amendment as it comes through.

Ms. Duncan:   The issue is not the blood-alcohol level that is set by the federal government.

097a

The issue is the Yukon and these vehicles being impounded. We introduced these measures and were applauded by MADD and other organizations for being one of the tougher jurisdictions on impaired driving. And now the ministerís amendment, in the view of many, weakens the law. The fact is the driver has been punished, or will have some consequences, but there are no consequences for the company. And I pointed out several instances where a company elsewhere in legislation is held responsible for the actions of an employee.

098a

I am concerned that this amendment apparently absolves the company of responsibility. Now the minister, in his explanation, used the example of a stolen vehicle. Well, a stolen vehicle is highly unlikely to be impounded. Itís stolen. But an individual who is driving the company vehicle while impaired, if there is a tragedy, which too often occurs under impaired driving, the public suit would include not only the driver but the company.

099a

Iím concerned about the way the law is written that weíre changing that existing case law and that weíre changing what the lawyers and the judicial system have to work with here. Weíre going about this amendment for the wrong reasons.

I would like the minister to justify that amendment and explain fully to the House how allowing companies to get their vehicles back early is not weakening our consequences, both for the driver and the company.

100a

How does he explain this amendment to Yukoners? How does he say, ďYes, we do have the toughest impaired driving laws,Ē when he is, in fact, weakening it with this amendment.

Chair:   Before we continue, we have reached the customary time for a recess. Would members like to take a break?

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   Weíll take a 15-minute recess.

 

Recess

 

101a

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with general debate on Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I would like to express that the change we have before us here is basically about equity for all vehicles on the road.

In 1997, the mercy release rules were brought in for the impoundment changes. They covered private vehicles.

102a

†There was no issue with regard to commercial vehicles. This was a gap and so we were trying to correct this particular aspect. It was also brought up through the advisory committee that there should be some equity in dealing with the situation and, as such, we feel it brings certainty to the process. The Motor Vehicles Act is currently signing on commercial vehicles and we believe this is an important element.

I believe the issue with regard to drunk driving is dealt with through the drunk driver himself or herself, and itís dealt with under the Criminal Code.

103a

I will state that MADD played a very important role on our committee, and I believe that we have their support in this particular venue. We had a couple of go-arounds with regard to this issue, but in essence the issue of the drunk driver is dealt with under federal law and Criminal Code, and that individual is taken off the highway from that particular process. The vehicle itself, as I mentioned earlier, isnít intoxicated, and it matters not what the vehicle is. In cases of a private vehicle, if in fact theyíre eligible to get their vehicles back on an early release, they have to go through certain criteria, just as a commercial vehicle would have to do.

104a

In the case of a driver, as mentioned, with regard to safety, the driver is removed from the road. Thatís there in the process. He is dealt with, as I mentioned, under the Criminal Code. The company still has to operate and/or the individual still has to get to and from work, depending on whether itís private or commercial. In the case where he wasnít in there and he does meet that requirement for early release, then we feel that the mercy rule would apply in this particular case.

As mentioned, the driver is dealt with through a separate process.

105a

I really feel that that is an important issue to deal with here. The vehicle still has to go through the process of getting released. You still have to go down; you still have to await your hearing. The impoundment of the vehicle is still in place until such time as the review officer reviews the process and that depends on when you can get your court date, and if you can get early release to go through that venue. I feel that is a very important issue here. The issue is that the driver is being dealt with under the Criminal Code and, as I mentioned earlier, we do have some of the toughest laws with regard to impaired driving in the Yukon.

106a

The vehicle is not drunk, the vehicle is not at play, and I believe this provides some equity to the situation in relation to private vehicles versus commercial.

I would just like to follow up on a previous question I had with regard to notification of cancellation for a senior. Iíve been advised during the break that we actually phone the person to notify them of the process. We ask if the person would like to drop their licence off to the office or, if they canít get down to the office, we can have somebody come and pick it up and go from there. We do send them a letter notifying the person of the licence being suspended and that the suspension can be appealed to the Driver Control Board, so they do have that option and they are identified in that process.

107a

Another issue that the member asked about óó I also obtained some further information ó is the family. The family can deal with the registrar or the RCMP. The RCMP would send a letter to the motor vehicles branch. We would notify the person that there is a concern. They would have to get a medical, and they may also have to do a road test with the person, on the recommendation of the Driver Control Board.

So there is a venue that is in place now, a little bit more than I explained earlier. I apologize if I didnít give a complete answer, but I did get some additional information. The government does pay for the medical, by the way, because we would identify the medical officer doing the review. We would choose the doctor ó as further follow-up to previous information.

108a

Yes, because we choose the doctor ó as a further follow-up to previous information.

Ms. Duncan:   I thank the minister for following up on that concern and addressing those issues, and for the additional information. I appreciate that. I do feel that informally if we can outline to families that thereís an avenue, I think thatís useful.

I would like to reassure the minister that I understand that the vehicle is not drunk on this issue of impoundment. Itís not if itís a private vehicle and itís not if itís a commercial vehicle. Thatís not the issue. We know the ó

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Ms. Duncan:   Well, ethanol, I suppose. I understand the ministerís point in that respect.

109a

The essence of the issue is: why are we dealing with commercial vehicles differently, and what impact are we having on the rest of the law in the country, in case law and in our own existing laws? Let me give the minister a horrific example. If an individual is driving a city bus and is impaired and there is a tragedy that occurred, you can rest assured that the individuals whose families who suffered the tragedy are going to ó this is a litigious society ó be pressing their case with the city.

110a

By singling out commercial vehicles in this law and by changing the rules for them and making a difference, what impact are we having on that? It all goes back to the ministerís letter that says that she was satisfied that the tow truck was wrongfully impounded, because the driver was not the owner. Well, that applies to a regular vehicle. The RCMP officer believed he was required to impound the tow truck, whereas the Motor Vehicles Act merely empowered him. He was allowed to. He was just doing his job, and the owner was not given an opportunity.

Well, if someone were driving a private vehicle that I was the owner of, and it was impounded, I wouldnít be allowed to make representation about it.

111a

†So the minister may have been satisfied in this letter and we have these amendments, but the public isnít satisfied. Instead it sounds like we ó much as when thereís an unfortunate incident with an aircraft, itís always pilot error ó seem to have blamed the first person in line here, singled them out and changed the law. I donít believe that should be our motivation for changing the laws. I have yet to be satisfied that changing this law is, as the act is motivated to do, going to make our roads any safer. I have yet to hear from the minister that this will not have an impact on case law and law in the rest of the country in the way businesses are treated and the way that our laws view businesses. Businesses can be held responsible for the actions of their employees in all other pieces of legislation, including the Liquor Act.

†112a

So how come we are letting the business off in this case? I havenít heard the minister fully respond to those points.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   It is not the intent of these changes to impede on anybodyís civil rights, for injured people to sue the owner. They could still sue the owner of the process. Itís up to the courts to decide on the liability. Again we get back to the issue ó if we are dealing with an impaired driver, this is a Criminal Code issue.

These amendments will have the judges responsible for the impoundment and the wrong and in clearing of the rules. As I mentioned earlier, we had consultation with our review officers, as well as the advisory council on this particular issue, and it is felt that these changes would clarify this issue and allow the judges to basically, as they purport it, make a judgemental decision on these cases.

113a

I believe, as mentioned, if you have an accident ó again, this is a hypothetical case ó and you have an injury, it doesnít matter whether you sign a waiver form or whatever. The waiver form doesnít do you any good, because your lawyer will tell you that theyíre still going after everybody they can to make it go. This doesnít impede the rights of the injured people in this particular case.

Ms. Duncan:   The courts decide based upon the laws we pass. They interpret what we do when cases come before them. In this instance, we are treating commercial vehicles differently, because weíve singled them out. Weíve singled them out and allowed for this provision and removed any consequences for the owner. The owner of the business can plead economic hardship.

†114a

Iím concerned that this particular section and this tow truck amendment is not the best course of action for this Legislature, that the courts will interpret this and say the Yukon Legislature did not appear, in that section, to hold the commercial owners to a higher standard that they should be held to. We expect commercial owners to pay more for licence plates. They pay more for the privilege of driving on our roads and for operating their business that way. We hold them to a higher standard. So why are we not holding them to a higher standard in this particular instance?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Again I will reiterate that the law brings equity to the situation and weíre not endangering the public, per se. This is an aspect. The criminal liability of the driver and the civil liability of the owner remained intact.

115a

Ms. Duncan:   I go back to the issue around the wrongful impoundment. Quite frankly, Iíve re-read the letter, Iíve listened to the debate many times in this Legislature and Iíve listened to the questions. As I understand it, two justices of the peace didnít feel the tow truck was wrongfully impounded. Although the Minister of Justice may have been satisfied with this explanation, the members of the public arenít.

The RCMP officer was entirely within his right to impound that vehicle and thereís no requirement that the owner have opportunity to make representation. There isnít on a private vehicle; why would there be on a commercial vehicle? The driver not being the owner is not an issue. Youíre driving the vehicle and you are well impaired, well beyond the legal limit.

Iím not satisfied that the vehicle should have been released in this instance and, even after the authority was transferred to the reviewing officer, nine vehicles were not released. This one vehicle release has caused this entire amendment and hours of debate.

116a

Is the minister absolutely satisfied that this amendment should be in there and that this is a piece of legislation that the Yukon Legislature should be passing? Or will he consider leaving out the commercial part of the piece of legislation? Will he consider that ó until we can all be satisfied that, yes indeed, this is the way the Yukon legislation should go?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iím not about to second-guess the judge in this particular case. I donít think itís in my purview to make that assumption one way or another. I will state, though, that the Motor Vehicles Act advisory committee and all of the key stakeholders were consulted and their suggestions taken on this input. This was one of their suggestions: the public was in support of this change during a public consultation, and the results indicate overwhelming support to do this particular venue. I believe this is an important venue for us to go down, and Iíd very much like to get moving along on the amendments, if we could, and go from there.

117a

Ms. Duncan:   It wonít come as a surprise to the minister that I disagree.

I am not criticizing the individuals who were empowered by us as a Legislature to rule on them. I know better than to criticize justices of the peace or judges. I am critical of the minister. I do not believe that this amendment ó that the vehicle should have been released. And I am not satisfied that the reasons for the ministerís release of the vehicle are appropriate. This amendment is not making our roads safer, as the Motor Vehicles Act sets out to do, and itís not part of the intent of the act.

There are issues that could have and should have been brought forward that havenít been. There was a very good example made earlier today.

I am very concerned. The minister has said, ďWell, we have this advisory committee and 75 percent of 400 Yukoners supported it.Ē Thatís not a representative sample. And the RCMP were not on the advisory committee. They were advised after the fact, according to the ministerís own statements.

We have empowered other individuals to enforce the highway Motor Vehicles Act provisions in certain instances.

118a

And with other sections of the act, away from the impoundment ó with other sections of the amendment, particularly that that went from highways to motor vehicles dealing with covering and ensuring your load on the back of a pickup truck is secured ó has there been any consultation or work done with the City of Whitehorse bylaw? This is particularly a problem. Anyone who drives Rabbitís Foot Canyon, or the section of the highway from the businesses to the city landfill site, knows that there is a lot of garbage that ends up on the road and, quite often, you see parts of peopleís loads on the highway. Has there been any discussion or a heads-up or issues around enforcement, either on this particular section, with the RCMP, with the City of Whitehorse bylaw, or with RCMP in the communities?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   This section was the law in 2002 and weíre just bringing it forward to address the situation on our Motor Vehicles Act along the ó basically it was in the Highways Act and now itís going to be under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Ms. Duncan:   For the benefit of the minister, the Member for Klondike spent days in this House ó to use an expression ó ragging the puck about the previous minister who was going to increase the number of people in enforcing these laws in the Motor Vehicles Act, which was not the case. However, there were hours and days spent in debate on that. I have no issue with moving this from the Highways Act to Motor Vehicles Act, which is what we are doing with this section of the act. However, under the Motor Vehicles Act, we empower certain bodies to enforce the laws.

119a

Have we advised the bodies under the Motor Vehicles Act that do enforce these provisions that this change was coming, and has there been a discussion with them about how it might be enforced?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   This particular change was requested by the local RCMP as there was no venue for them in which to deal with this situation. This is one of the main reasons we brought this forward ó to address this so they can administer it on the highway.

Ms. Duncan:   As I understand it ó and perhaps we could get advice from the officials with the minister ó there are other people empowered under the act besides the RCMP to enforce that. Certain provisions are enforceable by the City of Whitehorse bylaw, and I believe their weigh scale operators may also have some enforcement provisions. So has there been a discussion with those individuals?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   For other individuals to deal with this, we would have to change the regulation to allow them to install that process.

Ms. Duncan:   I think the City of Whitehorse is the key one that I can think of being able to enforce this, particularly in the Rabbitís Foot Canyon area where we often do see debris. This will be done by regulation, so is Cabinet prepared to deal with that should a request come forward?

120a

Hon. Mr. Hart:  I think that in view of the fact that what weíre trying to do is basically keep the roads clean throughout the immediate area of the City of Whitehorse, I donít foresee any difficulty with us allowing city bylaw to carry forth this issue, and we would make that change in the regulation once it becomes law.

Ms. Duncan:   Am I correct in understanding when I read this part of the section and other parts of the act as well that where it says words like ďcommits an offenceĒ, that is under regulation, and Cabinet also sets the fines for those regulations ó as the offence ó and where are they currently? Are they in line with the rest of the country? For example, seat belt offence is set by regulation, is dealt with in this act, and the fine is ó whatever it is currently. And that can be increased by Cabinet. So is the fine for this in keeping with those other fines?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   How we compare to the other jurisdictions varies depending on which jurisdiction youíre in. In some cases, the fine is $1,000, in some cases it is $2,000, and in some cases it is $500, similar to the Yukon. We would have to go and change our regulations to increase the fines in any area ó sorry, to create a ticket.

Ms. Duncan:   With this offence, which has gone from the highway regulations to the Motor Vehicles Act, it must have a fine attached to it and could I just have the minister tell us what that is? And Iíve heard him say thereís no intention to change it. It would be changed by regulation. So there are no anticipated changes.

121a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Iíll have to put on my glasses to read the small stuff. Under section 247 of the act, it states that the fine be not more than $500 for this, and any default in payment could result in imprisonment.

Ms. Duncan:   So it would vary up to $500 then, and that would probably be at the discretion of the officer, I would assume. Thank you; I appreciate that information.

I have some questions around the issue of operations of motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs. Those under the age of 16 arenít allowed to operate a motorcycle or snowmobile on a highway, unless they hold a learnerís permit, but ATVs are left out of that particular section. Iím curious as to why. Letís start with that. Why are the ATVs left out of that?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   If you have an ATV and you drive it on the highway, itís considered a motor vehicle. Itís the same as the other aspects. If you drive it off road, off the highway, itís not considered in that same light and, therefore, the licensing aspect doesnít apply.

122a

Ms. Duncan:   We often see individuals crossing over highways on their snowmobiles, and the same would apply to ATVs. I notice that, particularly on the Alaska Highway in northern British Columbia, youíll see the ATVs driving beside the highway. So technically theyíre off road, but theyíre clearly visible on the highway right-of-way. Theyíre not covered under this. There is a major issue out there, because there are plenty of young people out there who donít have a learnerís permit and arenít old enough, but who are operating snowmobiles and ATVs. How are we dealing with those situations?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Any issue with respect to a motor vehicle, snowmobile, or four-wheeler thatís around or on the highway, is the RCMPís responsibility to enforce the process, and what they use on this particular issue is at their discretion. They are responsible for dealing with the situation as it relates directly to our highways.

Ms. Duncan:   The problem I have with the ministerís last statement is that itís well and good to say itís the RCMPís responsibility to enforce the laws, but weíre responsible for writing the laws, for making sure they are enforceable, and that weíre not placing an undue burden on them ó that weíre giving them the tools to do their job, but weíre not being unreasonable about it.

The problem I have with this section is that itís not unheard of for someone who doesnít necessarily hold a learnerís permit ó or may not be old enough to hold a learnerís permit ó to be operating a snowmobile to go to school in some of our communities. Iíve seen many young individuals driving snowmobiles in the community of Old Crow ó and driving them far better than many adults, I might add.

123a

I also know from personal experience that people under the age of 15 can operate four-wheelers and do so and cross highways. So if weíre going to put a law like this on the books, are we asking the RCMP to enforce it? Are we giving them the tools to do it, or are we just putting it down for the sake of passing a law? What is the justification for doing this particular section and the motivation for doing this section?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Section 212 requires changing to correct the mistake in the law that states that no person under 16 may operate a motorcycle on a highway. A person under the age of 16 has always been able to operate a motorcycle or a snowmobile on the highway if they in fact hold a valid learnerís driverís licence authorizing them to do so.

Ms. Duncan:   I am going to defer further questions on that respect about specific snowmobile operation.

My concern is young people who do not have a learnerís permit, and arenít old enough to get one, crossing the highway with either a snowmobile ó and there are plenty of snowmobile-type vehicles and ATVs that young people are able to drive. Weíve seen them. Some members of the House have won them in various raffles that are held. They are out there. They are operated by young people. They cross the highway. This happens in front of my house on a regular basis. Are we asking the RCMP to enforce that section about crossing the highways? Are we giving the RCMP tools or are we putting an undue burden on them?

124a

Why was this changed? If the minister wouldnít mind telling me, whatís the motivation for this section and why are ATVs not included?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I will repeat: section 212 requires a change to correct a mistake in the law that states, ďNo person under the age of 16 years shall operate a motorcycle, moped, or snowmobile on the highway.Ē A person under the age of 16 has always been able to operate a motorcycle or snowmobile on the highway if they in fact hold a valid driverís licence authorizing them to do so.

Ms. Duncan:   Iím not being clear enough for the minister, or somehow weíre not communicating. Iím thinking not of the 15-year-olds. Iím thinking of the eight, nine, 10, 11, 12-year-olds who drive these smaller snowmobiles. Not the motorcycles because theyíre not able to drive those, but the small ATVs. Granted, they shouldnít be on the highway. Nobody wants them on the highway, but they do cross the highway on occasion, and theyíre out there driving these vehicles, so if itís not enforceable ó

You know, there are instances of recreational vehicles. If this is not enforceable, why are we putting it on the books? Did the RCMP come to us and say, ďLook, we need something because these off-road young people are using these vehicles,Ē or ďTheyíre crossing highways in an unsafe mannerĒ? Why is this on the books ó this particular singling out of the snowmobiles? I can understand motorcycles, but letís face it: snowmobiles are modes of transportation for many young people.

125a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   In dealing with younger children on snowmobiles or ATVs ó mostly snowmobiles and ATVs are used for recreational purposes, and itís there. What weíre looking at here is trying to give the RCMP the tools they need, if in fact a young individual is driving on the highway on that process.

Now, the discretion of the RCMP is used, in most of these cases, if itís just a criss-cross or if itís a known area where they cross ó itís there. But basically itís in place and allows the RCMP to enforce an issue where somebody is blatantly driving on the highway and to deal with it.

But in general, as I mentioned, ATVs and skidoos are used for recreational purposes, and they are usually used off of the highway in that particular event. Itís an enforceable situation, and itís the RCMPís choice or their discretion, depending upon what it is. If in fact itís just a crossing of the highway in a safe spot or if itís a crossing of the highway in an unsafe spot, then itís at the discretion of the RCMP to deal with that particular issue.

Mrs. Peter:   I have a few questions for the minister about the act that is before us today.

I listened with great interest the last few days about some of the comments that have been made in regard to this act.

126a

I would just like to take the minister back a little bit again to the review survey that was done and how some of the questions that were put out on the survey came about. Can the minister again tell the House who was on the advisory committee?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The advisory committee consisted of: Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Yukon chapter, as well as association with the national chapter; Yukon Transportation Association; and Teamsters Local 31. We had meetings with the review officers who administrate early release provisions; and we also had input from the Driver Control Board, the RCMP, officials from the Department of Justice, Community Services, and Highways and Public Works on an ongoing basis for that process.

Mrs. Peter:   Can the minister tell the House ó Iím thinking more of the community of Old Crow ó who on that advisory committee would have represented a small community such as Old Crow?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We provided letters to all First Nations on this issue. They were sent out and, as I mentioned earlier, we provided newspaper articles with regard to the survey and provided a toll-free number for people to phone in on to get their input.

Mrs. Peter:   I see in the information before us that there were 400 respondents to the Motor Vehicles Act review survey.

127a

The 400 respondents covered the demographics of the Yukon in terms of age and gender. I wonder if the minister could tell this House, of the 400 respondents, how many of these people may have been from the communities throughout the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Of our 404 respondents to the survey, 227 people were surveyed in Whitehorse, 127 people were surveyed in the rural communities.

Mrs. Peter:   Out of the 127 people who were surveyed outside of Whitehorse, Mr. Chair, how many of those people can the minister tell us were from the community of Old Crow, for instance, or can he narrow it down to a number?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The best that I can respond to the member opposite is that 14 percent of those who responded were First Nations.

Mrs. Peter:   Mr. Chair, can you ask the minister to please repeat his answer?

128a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The best I can respond to her answer is that 14 percent of those who responded were First Nation citizens.

Mrs. Peter:   So we have 127 people from outside Whitehorse who responded to the survey, and 14 percent of the 127 people were First Nations, if I understood the minister correctly.

We have a very diverse territory. All our communities are not the same, and especially the community of Old Crow. I would like to hear from the minister how many of that 14 percent he just mentioned came directly from the community of Old Crow.

129a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I am unable to answer that question.

Mrs. Peter:  Thatís what I thought. We have before us an act, an amendment to change a very key act within our territory thatís going to affect many people. And many of our communities throughout the Yukon are very diverse. Many of our communities donít have highways. Actually, many of our communities have highways. My riding is a very isolated community. I would like the minister to explain to this House or give this House the meaning of the word ďhighwayĒ as it is addressed in this amendment before us.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The member opposite will have to bear with me. ďHighwayĒ means: any cul-de-sac, boulevard, thoroughfare, street, road, trail, avenue, parkway, driveway, viaduct, lane, alley, square, bridge, causeway, ice road, trestle way or other place, whether publicly or privately owned, any part of which the public is ordinarily entitled or permitted to use for passage or parking of vehicles, and includes the sidewalk, including a boulevard portion thereof, when a ditch lies adjacent to and parallel to the roadway, the ditch and highway right-of-way is contained between fences or contained in a cut line or between a fence and one side of a roadway, all of the land between the fences, all of the land in the cut line, or all of the land between the fence and the edge of the roadway, as the case may be; all the land shown on the registered plan or survey of a highway right-of-way and, when the highway right-of-way is not shown on the registered plan or survey or is not contained between fences or cut lines, all of the land within 30 metres of the center line.

130a

Mrs. Peter:   I appreciate that answer from the minister. We have an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act before us. Within this act the government is proposing some changes. There was a situation that happened ó and I remember it only too well ó last summer. There are several sections within this amendment that I do not support. First of all, weíre talking about accountability. Weíre talking about road safety and the safety of the public, more especially the safety of the public in the bigger centres in regard to commercial vehicles.

131a

We know the sad situation that happened last year, and it was very unfortunate circumstances the minister found herself in. However, there was a person driving a commercial vehicle with three times the level of alcohol thatís permitted, and thatís dangerous. Our children are walking around out there, our families and our friends, and this is allowed to happen.

In regard to the release of that commercial vehicle at that time, the RCMP was placed in a very unfortunate situation by the Minister of Justice. The court was placed in a very unfortunate situation, Mr. Chair, and they handed it right back into the hands of the minister.

132a

Now we have before us this amendment that was hastily put together and the survey that was done over the summer. Iím not sure how many of those people who were surveyed come from my community because the community of Old Crow has different circumstances from other communities throughout the Yukon. We have the RCMP, which is responsible to enforce the law within our communities. In our community they use very responsible discretion because we are different.

There is a section in here that says that no person under the age of 16 years old shall operate a snowmobile on a highway.

133a

The minister just gave us the meaning of the word ďhighwayĒ within the Motor Vehicles Act, and I want it on public record that ďhighwayĒ means similar roads to what we have in Old Crow. Under no circumstances can I support this because, in my community, our families take care of each other. A person under the age of 16 years old can actually drive a snow machine and help their grandparents go the one mile or half a mile to the local grocery store to pick up their groceries or their mail and then drive them back home. Mr. Chair, a snow machine is used by a young man under the age of 16 to go out hunting.†

134a

I would like to hear from the minister on the definition of ďhighwayĒ in the Motor Vehicles Act, as these young people are learning the ways and practices of hunting and harvesting. I would like to hear from the minister to see if my understanding of this section that I just referred to is the same as his understanding.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Under this section, we are only correcting the error. This actual act has been in place since about 1986. All we are correcting is the issue with regard to 16 versus 15.

Mrs. Peter:   I would like to hear from the minister how he sees this section pertaining to the community of Old Crow.

135a

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Old Crow, as the member opposite indicates, is a very unique community and many residents ó as the member indicates ó as young as 12 years old ride an ATV and/or snowmobile and use it for subsistence services and/or learning the skills of being on the land, and other activities. With regard to the change and Old Crow residents, vehicles used on the road, including those in Old Crow, are required to be registered and insured. Drivers of these vehicles are required by law to hold a valid driverís licence. The RCMP in Old Crow are using their discretion, and the member opposite has indicated that particular aspect, as to whether to enforce this particular law in Old Crow. Again, this deals with the issue of their unique aspect. At the present time, and as has been indicated by the member opposite, for the past many years previously, the RCMP have chosen not to enforce this law due to other aspects of dealing with issues in Old Crow.

136a

Mr. Fairclough:   Has this issue been raised by the residents of Old Crow as a concern about having the young people consistently breaking the law?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The RCMP is dealing with the situation in Old Crow. As the member opposite from that particular riding said, they are using their judgement in an appropriate manner.

Mr. Fairclough:  † Is the government, the minister, basically saying to the RCMP not to enforce the act?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Again itís a hypothetical question, but this minister doesnít tell the RCMP what to do at any time.

137a

Mr. Fairclough:   Well, Mr. Chair, the member did just say that itís up to the RCMP, but if the minister wanted to, he could ensure that the act is enforced. But he doesnít give any direction to that. This is common among many departments in government, whether they choose to really enforce a section of the act that guides them or not. This is quite important, not just to Old Crow; itís important to Beaver Creek, to people in Pelly Crossing, Carmacks and so on who use community roads and road right-of-ways for transportation by ATVs and snowmobiles and so on.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   In responding to this particular aspect, as I mentioned earlier I donít believe itís in my purview to tell the RCMP what to do, but I will state that any member of the public can come to the RCMP and voice a complaint if in fact they have somebody creating a difficulty for that small community, or even in the City of Whitehorse, for that matter.

138a

The City of Whitehorse has bylaw issues with regard to motorized vehicles, and they too are dealing with those situations and that particular aspect.

But, as I said, for me to do that ó but the general public can make a complaint to the RCMP, and the RCMP can react to that complaint.

Mr. Fairclough:   I guess if the act is enforced ó if itís enforced ó then the RCMP could be laying charges against many community people in the territory who do not have a valid driverís licence and operate an ATV on the side road, on the trail, in the ditch, on the highway right-of-way ó all of that ó which is the way itís laid out here. Is that one of the things the minister would like to see happen? After all, it is the Motor Vehicles Act, and he is responsible for it.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   As I mentioned, this has been in effect since 1986. When that member was across the way on this side of the fence, he had an opportunity to make that change. When the Liberal Party was over here, they had an opportunity to make that change. This change has been in there since 1986. All weíre doing is making a change from 15 to 16.

139a

Mr. Fairclough:   The minister chooses not to answer the question. He is responsible for the act. Why not answer the question? Maybe there are people out there who would like this minister to say, ďLetís enforce the act because of safety concernsĒ and so on. What the minister is saying is: if you go along the Klondike Highway and those who are operating ATVs along the highway in the ditches are breaking the law consistently because they are in the highway right-of-way ó this is not a concern to the minister although he has it in law.

What about the community of Old Crow, which has dealt with this issue in a number of different ways? It was strange to even see signs, for example, on trails ó stop signs and so on. This was directly for ATVs to have some type of safety in and around the community.

140a

It just doesnít make sense. Thatís in section 12(1). You look at 12(2), regulations are still to be established to look at age ó at what age, I suppose, is the minimum that could be operating an electric power-assisted cycle that can only go as high as 32 kilometres an hour. I donít know how theyíre going to enforce that one either. What if they went 34? Who is monitoring this? Are they going to get a speeding ticket?

I think the questions that are being asked about this are legitimate. I know the member opposite says that four-wheelers are considered vehicles. We just changed that whole meaning of vehicles, which I think in the old meaning could mean trailers, and so on.

†141a

Thatís a question I would like to ask. But what about other things that have difficulty with steering and so on, like Argos ó what are they considered? ATVs? Is it a vehicle? Is it an all-terrain vehicle as it is described? Are they allowed on the highways with their limited steering, and so on?

I just havenít seen those laid out clearly. Maybe the minister could enlighten us with an explanation on that. I know that we really want to hear it.

The two sections almost donít make sense when you read them. We are taking some vehicles off the highway and we are putting them into bicycle lanes. Then we are saying that maybe even adults without valid driverís licences could cross the highway and not have anything happen to them, versus someone who is younger who canít get it. It just doesnít make sense.

If there is a spot where it is unsafe to cross the highway, I think that should be monitored with those who have valid driverís licences and are operating ATVs.

142a

It just doesnít make sense, and I think what we would like to do is to bring more clarity to this, and I hope that the minister can do that in follow-up to our questions under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Mr. Chair, given the time, I move that you report progress.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Fairclough that we report progress.

Motion agreed to

 

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

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

Motion agreed to

 

Speaker resumes the Chair

143a

 

Speaker:   I will now call the House to order.†

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

Chairís report

Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 51, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, and has directed me to report progress on it.

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

Some Hon. Members:   Agreed.

 

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

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

Motion agreed to

 

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

 

The House adjourned at 6:03 p.m.

 

 

 

The following Sessional Paper was tabled October 28, 2004:

 

04-1-111

Public Accounts of the Government of Yukon for the year ended March 31, 2004†† (Fentie)

 

The following document was filed October 28, 2004:

 

04-1-56

Impoundment of Capital Towing Services flat deck tow truck (Plate #CTB22), letter from Hon. Elaine Taylor, Minister of Justice (dated July 25, 2003) to Rodney Snow, Davis and Company† (Hart)