Tuesday, May 17, 2005 — 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In remembrance of Ralph Hudson
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, on very few occasions, a person of exceptional talents, ability and personality comes along who makes a profound improvement in the life of a community. Such a person was the man to whom we pay tribute today, Judge Ralph E. (Buzz) Hudson. To share in this tribute today in the House are Buzz’s beloved wife Jan, his daughter Kim and her husband Dave, his daughter Tamara, her partner Chris, and their son Liam Buzz.
Also in the gallery, from Fairbanks, Alaska, are Buzz and Jan’s lifelong friends, Ron and Lou Davis, as well as from South M’Clintock Bay, Ken and Judy McKinnon, along with his friends and colleagues from the Law Society of Yukon. I would also like to welcome Mrs. Flo Whyard, past member of the Yukon Legislature, as well as her daughter, Judy.
I would also like to welcome the Hon. Senior Justice Ron Veale, the Hon. Mr. Justice Leigh Gower, as well as Hon. Judge Heino Lilles.
Ralph (Buzz) Hudson was born in Victoria, British Columbia on April 9, 1932. He displayed a natural talent for many sports as he attended Sir James Douglas High and Vic High in Victoria. Buzz left Victoria upon receiving a scholarship to Western Washington University where he played both football and basketball. The following year, Buzz transferred to UBC in Vancouver where he earned his degrees in commerce and law and continued playing varsity basketball and football.
While at UBC, Buzz met Jan. Their love at first sight led to marriage on October 2, 1956, at St. Francis-in-the-Wood in West Vancouver. Buzz articled at Ladner Downs law firm in Vancouver and surprised everyone with his decision to venture north and join the Nielsen Enderton law firm in Whitehorse, Yukon. With their two baby daughters, Lori and Kim, the young Hudson family headed north up the Alaska Highway in the summer of 1960. At that time, Whitehorse was a friendly, dusty town of 6,000 people when Buzz and Jan arrived, and they loved it. The legal work was never dull, and Buzz quickly became one of Yukon’s leading criminal lawyers.
In Whitehorse, the family grew with the arrival of Tamara and Patrick. Buzz also became an enthusiastic member of the Yukon senior men’s basketball team.
The Hudson family enjoyed a rich northern life that included time at Kookatsoon and Marsh Lake cabins, as well as travel throughout Yukon and Alaska where they made many lifelong friends.
In 1974, Buzz and Jan decided it was time to take the family south, where Buzz practised law at the law firm of Shrum, Liddle & Hebenton. Appointed a Deputy Judge of the Territorial Court in 1976, he returned to the Yukon from time to time.
In 1982, Buzz was appointed to the B.C. Provincial Court and sat as a judge in Vancouver and Victoria until 1993, when he became the Senior Judge of the Supreme Court of the Yukon. He held this position until his retirement in September 2003.
Buzz was an active volunteer in the Yukon having served as president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and of the Yukon Law Society, as well as director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As an organizer, Buzz worked to create continuing education seminars for the Yukon legal community that brought visiting judges and academics to Whitehorse in what has become an annual summer lecture series. He also spent time coaching basketball and helping administer various sporting organizations, both locally and nationally.
In 1970, Buzz ran against one of Yukon’s political legends, Norm Chamberlist, for a seat in this Assembly. In his door-to-door campaigning, Buzz ran into an individual whom he had successfully prosecuted in his days as Crown Prosecutor with the Nielsen firm. It was an awkward moment for Buzz, until the person responded, “I deserved what I got. I was guilty but you were extremely fair. I have nothing against you and I will be voting for you.”
That’s something that we don’t often hear at the door when this happens.
After the election, Mr. Chamberlist, who won the election, reportedly told Buzz that the people of Whitehorse East had really supported Buzz, as they thought that he was much too valuable to the community and much too nice to become one of us.
Other testimonials about Buzz Hudson include the following recount of Ron and Lou Davis: “We had everlasting card games of 500. We played as partners against Jan and Lou. Wherever we met, be it Dawson City, Salt Spring Island, Vancouver, Seattle, Phoenix, Fairbanks, Whitehorse, Marsh Lake, Juneau, Skagway, to name a few, the card game was ongoing. Even though Lou kept score, we still claimed victory over the girls. “I think I can now tell the story of our bringing a bottle of champagne in the box seats of the Palace Grand Theatre. We popped the cork and it flew into the audience while the RCMP were seated in the next spot. It looked as though disbarment may have been a possibility, but no one ever found out who popped that cork into the audience until now.”
I’ll not forget that call from you when you told me you would be moving back to the Yukon to sit on the bench as a Supreme Court Justice. I remember well the excitement in your voice and how proud you were when you said, ‘Ron, from now on, I don’t want you calling me Buzzy any more. In the future, please refer to me as Judge Buzzy.’”
A truly endearing spirit, Buzz cherished fun times with his family and friends above all else and was known by many as an honest, dependable man with a charismatic sense of humour. I also understand that after today’s proceedings in the Legislature, a ceremony will be taking place at Mountainview Golf Course, in which a plaque will be placed on the bench on the fifth hole in commemoration of Judge Hudson’s contributions to the community and a reflection of his avid love of the game of golf.
It is an honour and a privilege for me to pay tribute to this incredible man, and I thank you for this opportunity and I thank all the family and friends who have joined us in the gallery today.
Mr. Hardy: On behalf of the official opposition, I rise to pay tribute to a great Yukoner and a man well known throughout the legal profession, Ralph Hudson, who was better known by his nickname Buzz. Buzz passed away on January 14 of this year after a lengthy battle with cancer, and it’s fitting that we pay tribute in this Legislative Assembly today because, as mentioned earlier, he did attempt to become a politician here. When we think about Buzz, it’s a shame that he wasn’t elected because I think we all would have been blessed with the benefit of his wisdom, his thoughtfulness and his humility, attributes that are so sorely needed in politics today.
Speaking of thoughtfulness, I have a small example of Buzz Hudson and the little things he did that left lasting impressions on those who were involved in that. This is a little bit of a personal story. I only met Buzz a few times in the last few years, but years and years ago my wife and I went before Judge Hudson to get guardianship over my wife’s mother Julia after she had suffered a stroke that affected her mentally and physically. We were a very young family. We had four children at a young age and we were just starting out. I don’t think we were seen to be the perfect family to be given guardianship of a mother who had suffered a stroke. I’m sure that he had some reservations looking at us and our ability to care for Julia, but he decided that we could. It meant a lot to us and one of the greatest blessings in our life was the ability, for me, to care for my mother-in-law, and for my wife to have that ability to care for her mother as her mother cared for her when she was young.
I think Buzz saw that in us, but what was really touching was, after the decision was made, he took the time to come out in the hallway and sit down beside Louise and ask her if she was going to be all right. To me, that signifies a person who really and truly cares. It’s not just a decision you made; it’s not something you do in public, but it’s actually thinking about it and coming up to the person after, sitting down with them and talking with them about it. That’s a kindness my wife has never forgotten, and she tells that story on a regular occasion.
I had the fortunate opportunity to sit down with one of the daughters a couple of nights ago and talk about her father — it was Kim — and share a perspective that’s not often seen in the public eye. What I picked up from that conversation was a sense of pride and love that she had for her father that was really quite moving. It became very obvious that he was a person who loved his family very deeply.
I have a few examples I’d just like to share after talking with her. One example she gave was how for years he rose at 5:00 a.m. to take her to figure skating. I’m sure the son and other daughters also have many stories. Years later, she asked him why he did this, and he said it was because it made him feel like a hero. I can relate to that. It’s a feeling we all, as fathers, want to have with our children.
There are other types of love — the love a man can have for a woman. Often it’s expressed in little things. For I believe over 48 years of marriage, it can often be summed up in gentle words that are expressed to others, and Kim told me of a couple of fairly recent examples that really brought home how much her father loved her mother.
One instance when the two of them were coming back across on the ferry through the passage and she was walking with her father back along the deck and he stopped her. He turned to her and said how beautiful Jan looked, who was sitting there reading. That was the significant impact of a man who truly loved. He also told her one day when he was in the hospital for chemotherapy treatment — and Jan had to go off to lunch alone — that what bothered him most about all of this was that his wife was to be eating lunch alone and he couldn’t be there. That’s caring for somebody else, beyond caring for himself.
He was also one of those rare people who lived his dream. At the age of 9, he won an essay contest. The topic was: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” What he wanted to be was a Supreme Court Judge at the age of 9, and guess what? Years later, he became that Supreme Court Judge.
Buzz was born in Victoria, graduated from the University of British Columbia law faculty and moved to the Yukon in 1960. He was a Deputy Judge of the Yukon Territorial Court since 1976 and, after stints in the B.C. courts, he returned north in 1993 to be the Senior Judge of the Yukon Supreme Court.
Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, described Buzz as a dedicated and learned jurist and a person of great warmth.
Buzz is also remembered for his sense of humour, his sporting activities, his tireless volunteer efforts, his humour, and his volunteer efforts, especially for the Law Society and the Canadian and Yukon chambers of commerce.
To Buzz’s family — wife Jan, daughters Lori, Kim and Tamara, and son Patrick — and many friends, our thoughts are with you as you try to cope with the sense of loss that Buzz’s passing brings. You can take solace in the fact that Buzz lived a good life, with many, many great accomplishments and that he is remembered and respected by so many people whose lives he touched, and that’s indicative of the people here today.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to join with my colleagues in the Legislature today to pay tribute to the late Justice Ralph Hudson of the Supreme Court of the Yukon.
Although I did not know Judge Hudson personally, like most Yukoners I certainly knew of Buzz Hudson, and many of his friends are friends of mine and have been introduced here today.
To the Hudson family, please accept my sincere sympathy on the loss of your husband, your father, your dear friend. It’s a very personal loss and I am truly sorry.
The judiciary, the Yukon legal community — you also have an absence in your midst, a resource that can no longer be called upon. Each of you, however, will have your own private, professional memory of this learned man with his sense of humour and strength of character we often refer to as “integrity”. I encourage you to continue to honour him in sharing these memories, and for the Hudson family, and all of Yukon, to know in our hearts and to remember that the Yukon is a better place for his service to us all.
In recognition of Jim Robb
Hon. Ms. Taylor: It is indeed my honour to rise today to pay tribute to another outstanding Yukoner, Jim Robb, in recognition of his many years of dedication to Yukon arts, culture and heritage, and to having been appointed recently to the Order of Canada.
Last year, Jim was appointed to the Order of Canada for his life’s work in creating and interpreting Yukon culture in the areas of the arts and heritage. The Order of Canada is a very prestigious award, recognizing people who have made a significant contribution and impacted our country. It is our country’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. A dedicated group of Yukoners — Ed and Donna Isaac, Babe Richards and the former MLA for Whitehorse Centre Mike McLarnon — began the nomination process. They received over 300 letters of support for Mr. Robb’s nomination, including one letter by our own Yukon Party caucus while in opposition.
Each letter mentioned not only his magnificent artwork but also his generosity of spirit and encouragement he provided to emerging artists. Jim Robb is best known throughout Yukon and Canada for his depictions of Yukon’s “colourful five percent” and his unique drawings and photographs of Yukon buildings. There are a few, however, who remain to know him as Skin Jim and remember or own one of the hundreds of beautiful sketchings he produced on moosehide.
Through art, books, studies and stories, Jim Robb continues to celebrate a side of Yukon that leans toward the unconventional. Jim describes his distinctive art as “the exaggerated truth”. Over the years he has created a legacy that captures the character and history of Yukon through delightful characters and images of Yukon places with a comical twist. Many of us have seen his prints or even have his prints in our home, such as “Full Moon Over Whiskey Flats”, “At Home in the Klondike”, “Bombay Peggy’s”, “House of Many Colours”, “Robert Service cabin”, and “Robert Service flower garden”, just to name a few. Jim’s art preserves the images of pioneer people and structures that made Yukon what it is today. He has also been instrumental in the production of several books and magazines, collections of odds and ends that fill the imagination with stories of the people and events from Yukon’s history.
He has certainly been an important part of Yukon’s art community since the late 1950s. Several of his paintings are also part of the Yukon permanent art collection, and many are found in homes throughout the Yukon.
He has already made a huge contribution to preserving Yukon history and heritage by recording our stories. Not only a passionate artist, archivist and historian, Jim has also been a strong contributor to charities and organizations over the years and is a much-valued member of our community.
Mr. Robb is one of the first to contribute his art as a donation to a silent auction for one of the many Yukon non-profit organizations’ fundraising efforts. For those who have had the opportunity to visit Jim at his home, as I have, you will know that Mr. Robb has one of the finest and largest archival collections in the Yukon and is always willing to share a story or two with anyone who wishes to take the time to listen.
Many admire Jim and have heard him relay, on many occasions, when he was first starting out as an artist, and that if he was going to make $1.50 a day, then he was going to do what he did best and what he liked to do.
On behalf of the Government of Yukon, I wish to convey our sincerest appreciation and thanks to Jim Robb on continuing to do what he does best and likes to do, and for deservedly receiving the highest recognition in our country, the Order of Canada, for his remarkable contribution to art, culture and community.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to draw members’ attention to the gallery. We have in the gallery a number of friends of Jim Robb here today. Sitting beside Jim Robb is Terri Michael. We also have Patty O’Brien, Rick Steele, Gordon Steele — our principal secretary — as well as Elaine Kennedy.
On behalf of the Government of Yukon, congratulations and thank you for your ongoing contributions to the development of our arts.
Mrs. Peter: I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to Jim Robb, who is one of the Yukon’s “colourful five percent”. Jim has been working in the Yukon for more than 40 years, since he came from Montreal. He has painted, sketched and photographed the lives of people on the fringes of our modern society. The subjects of his art are people and places that have made Yukon’s history. We each have our favourite Jim Robb pictures on our walls, and we send his cards Outside to friends who wonder what we’re all about. Jim doesn’t simply record our way of life, he takes part in it fully. His volunteer efforts in collecting, preserving and promoting the Yukon’s past have helped us to see it as our legacy for the future. He has made every effort to stimulate and support tourism and culture in the Yukon, and we must surely be proud of our resident artist and friend.
To Jim Robb, congratulations on your appointment to the Order of Canada. It is well-deserved.
Ms. Duncan: On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I join with my colleagues in the Legislature in offering tribute to Jim Robb, and warmest congratulations on your appointment to the Order of Canada.
There is an expression often used about referees or baseball umpires, that they call them as they see them. I certainly would describe Jim Robb’s art in that way, and I enjoyed listening to the other members in the gallery describe some of the various paintings and artwork that we are all proud to display in our homes. It is the Yukon as we see it, and I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Jim Robb for sharing his artwork with us and sharing the Yukon as he sees it and as we see it. Again, my warmest congratulations upon your appointment to the Order of Canada.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
In recognition of Sandra Gabb
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a constituent of the beautiful Southern Lakes, Mrs. Sandra Gabb.
Sandra was recently the recipient of the Alice Elston award from the Yukon Teachers Association. This award, named for the first president of the association, is in recognition of Sandra’s service and contribution to education as a past president and as a professional educator.
Sandra was a teacher and a principal in the Yukon for 27 years and was involved with various schools throughout the territory, including the Carcross Community School.
Also, with Sandra in the gallery today, are Sandra Henderson, the president-elect of the Yukon Teachers Association, and Mr. Ian Oostindie, the current president. Congratulations, Sandra.
In remembrance of Aylie Sparkes
Mr. Cardiff: I rise on behalf of the Legislature today to pay tribute to a great Yukon musician, Aylie Sparkes, who is also known as Peter Thiessen.
Our thoughts are with Aylie’s family today: his partner Tanya Groundwater, his daughter Teka Rae, and his son Oliver Bean as they try to cope with the loss of their partner and their father.
Aylie passed away on Sunday, May 8, after a battle with cancer in his 38th year. It has been said, Mr. Speaker, that music washes away the dust of everyday life. Aylie’s guitar will no longer help us to wash away the dust of our lives with his powerful and passionate style.
Aylie arrived in the Yukon from Nelson, B.C. about four years ago in true blues fashion on an eighth of a tank of gasoline and about $5 in his pocket. He immediately made a big impression here in Whitehorse in the local music scene and around the territory. He described that group of people, the musicians, as a real tight-knit community — and they are — and he fit right into that community and became part of the community and was well accepted and welcome in all the music circles.
He was described by his peers as a great talent, a kind soul, and a person who contributed to the music community and to the community as a whole.
In 2004, he was nominated for outstanding blues recording at the Western Canadian Music Awards for his Beautiful and Deranged live album.
During his illness, Aylie showed great courage. He continued to play regularly in many venues, including several sets just this past year at the Frostbite Music Festival. Aylie once said, “With show business, the only excuse for not going on is either you’re dead or passed out or in jail.” While I didn’t know Aylie personally, I did have the great opportunity to listen to his music, as many people in the Yukon did. He played with passion.
I had the opportunity to see him at many venues, whether it was at Frostbite Music Festival, the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, or any of the other venues here in the Yukon. It was always a joy to watch Aylie play because he played with such joy. You could see it in his face, you could hear it in the words, and you could hear it in the comments he made between songs. There was always that sense of camaraderie with the other musicians. He was a real part of the group, and he enjoyed having those people there with him.
While Aylie was only here in the Yukon for a short period of time, he made a great impact here in the Yukon on the music scene and in our community, and we’re all going to miss him.
Donations to assist the family can be made at Steve’s Music Shop.
We’ll miss you, Aylie, and thank you.
In recognition of National Road Safety Week
Hon. Mr. Hart: I rise on behalf of the House today to recognize National Road Safety Week, which takes place from May 17 to 23 this year. These dates are chosen to coincide with the first summer long weekend, a time when millions of Canadians take to the road and vehicle accidents increase. It’s also a very popular time for Yukoners to get away to their favourite camping spot or to visit our neighbours in Alaska before the tourist season hits its peak.
Mr. Speaker, during this week, the Canada Safety Council works to educate the public about safe driving practices. Canada’s transportation and road safety ministers, including the Yukon’s, have endorsed a national safety strategy called “Road safety vision 2010”. The goal of this strategy is to significantly reduce deaths and injuries on Canada’s roads by 2010.
Safe driving practices highlighted during National Road Safety Week this year emphasizes: if you’re drinking, don’t drive — ever; use seatbelts and child restraints for all people in a vehicle at all times, even for short trips; maintain driver alertness at all times and be extra cautious at intersections; obey posted speed limits on roads, both in your neighbourhood and on Yukon highways.
Our staff, working with national occupant restraint program representatives, coordinated a child restraint inspection clinic at Rotary Peace Park this past weekend and will be carrying out similar clinics later this month in Watson Lake and in Dawson City in July.
Transport services staff in the Department of Highways and Public Works are supporting RCMP activities during National Road Safety Week. The RCMP will be holding check-stops over the May long weekend to help ensure everyone stays safe on the first holiday weekend of this summer.
Mr. Speaker, there has been a shift in how we view road safety. At one time in Canada, road injuries and fatalities were widely seen as evidence largely beyond our control. This is no longer the case. Road crashes are now largely viewed as preventable events, which make the deaths that result from the crashes profoundly tragic.
The World Health Organization slogan — “Road safety is no accident” — is designed to remind us that injuries are preventable. Closer to home, approximately 3,000 people a year die and 140,000 are injured on Canada’s roads. Last year, five people were killed on Yukon roads; 682 people were injured. Given the size of our population and the volume of traffic on roads, this amount is too high. It is also very striking that the same three reasons are cited around the world as the main causes for road injuries and death: failing to do up seatbelts, speeding or driving too fast for road conditions and drunk driving. These causes also apply to the Yukon. Many of the crashes that occur on Yukon roads involve a single vehicle accident. The drivers of these vehicles often lose control because they have been drinking before driving, they are too tired to stay awake, or they are driving too fast for the road conditions.
I would like to end by wishing all Yukoners a great Victoria Day holiday and remember to drive safely.
In recognition of Emergency Medical Services Week
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I rise today in this House to ask my colleagues to join me in paying tribute to the many men and women in the Yukon who make up our core of emergency medical services personnel. The week of May 15 to May 21 is Emergency Medical Services Week and serves as a timely reminder of the importance of the work being done by this very dedicated group of people. Emergency medical service is a vital public service and our EMS attendants are part of a team that is ready to provide life-saving care for those in need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are there when we may need them.
We know that members of emergency medical services teams, whether volunteer or full-time members, participate in thousands of hours of specialized training and continued education to enhance their life-saving skills. These skills dramatically improve the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury. They want to be able to make sure that the service they provide is of the highest quality and uses the most up-to-date technology in order to give the people they serve the very best possible chance for survival.
It is important to recognize the value and accomplishments of our emergency medical service providers, from Old Crow — who will be receiving an ambulance this coming winter — to Watson Lake, from Beaver Creek to Faro. These people — these men and women — give up their own time to make sure that others are cared for. Our EMS has become the best trained, best equipped service in northern Canada.
On behalf of the government, I thank all our volunteer and EMS personnel and all of our career EMS personnel who watch over us, and we thank them very much for this undertaking.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the official opposition to also pay tribute to our emergency medical services in this national EMS Week. We are very proud of our hard-working EMS personnel, staff and volunteers in the Yukon. Throughout the year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, they are ready to respond to medical emergencies. Without hesitation, they attend vehicle accidents, accompany patients and medevacs, or stand by in the event of disasters. It takes a special kind of person to want to do this job. He or she needs to be physically fit, mentally alert and very knowledgeable in a wide variety of medical problems. While these skills can be acquired through training, other attributes can be found within the person’s own character. EMS workers must have a fine sense of compassion for anyone in very stressful situations. They must take care of patients’ physical well-being and provide reassurance and comfort in stressful situations.
The EMS worker needs to be decisive, confident and fast thinking to take charge in a rapidly changing situation. They are a special breed. We pay tribute especially to the volunteers in our communities who give their own time to make sure that Yukoners are given every chance to survive critical injuries and illnesses.
In recognition of International Museum Day
Hon. Ms. Taylor: It is my honour to rise today and pay tribute to International Museum Day.
In 1977, the International Council of Museums adopted a resolution designating May 18 as International Museum Day. This resolution was intended to remind governments and the general public of the very special role museums play in preserving our cultural heritage.
Since 1984, annual themes have been used to better coordinate international celebrations. The theme for this year is “Museums bridging cultures”. Bridging cultures is a way to recognize and celebrate our cultural diversity, and it’s a particularly important component of the mandate of the cultural services branch within the Department of Tourism and Culture.
Our government is proud to continue its support of museums, interpretive centres and First Nation cultural heritage centres across the Yukon. This year, the Department of Tourism and Culture will be providing contributions of up to $943,000 in support of these institutions to research, plan, develop, manage and protect Yukon’s material culture and natural history.
Tourism and Culture is also proud to have supported the Yukon Historical and Museums Association in the publication of Yukon: A Guide to Heritage Attractions, which I will be tabling later for members’ review. The quality of this piece is a reflection of the quality of experience that awaits visitors at all the territory’s heritage attractions, from the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake to the Big Jonathan Heritage Centre in Pelly Crossing.
The importance of these attractions to our tourism economy cannot be overstated. According to our visitor exit survey, 58 percent of visitors to the Yukon visit museums and heritage attractions, ranking them alongside visits to national attractions like Kluane National Park or Miles Canyon.
The total impact of Yukon’s heritage institutions on our gross domestic product was $3.36 million in 2002. These institutions directly employ over 100 people.
Yukon’s museum community has chosen to celebrate International Museum Day this weekend, on Saturday, May 21. This day was chosen so families and children can participate in special events planned for the day. Tourism and Culture is proud to be participating in this celebration. The Beringia Centre, along with 11 other attractions in six communities, will be waiving admission charges for the day, and other special events are being planned.
I encourage all Yukoners, including all members, to celebrate International Museum Day with us this weekend.
In closing, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the boards and staff of each centre, as well as many volunteers, for their ongoing hard work that helps to ensure our history and heritage are protected and preserved for the enjoyment of all Yukoners for today and tomorrow.
In recognition of National Public Works Week
Hon. Mr. Hart: On behalf of the House, I rise today to recognize National Public Works Week celebrated this year from May 15 to 21.
National Public Works Week is an annual celebration across North America. This event is promoted by American and Canadian public works associations to raise awareness of public works activities and projects and recognize the hard work, dedication and expertise of public works officials.
The theme for 2005 National Public Works Week is “Public works is everywhere you look”.
Public works are everywhere you look. The public works sector in the territory — government alone — operates over 400 buildings and employs over 200 Yukoners. Additional public works activities and employees are represented in the federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and First Nation governments, as well as the private sector.
Public works infrastructure, facilities and services are of vital importance to the health, safety and well-being of all Yukon people. These facilities and services could not be provided without the dedicated efforts of public works specialists.
These hard-working men and women are responsible for and must design, build, operate and maintain the transportation, water supply, sewage and refuse disposal systems, public buildings and other structures and facilities essential to serve our citizens.
It is in the public interest of all residents and leaders of this territory to learn about and remain attentive to the public works needs and programs of our communities.
Mr. Speaker, please unite with me in recognizing Public Works Week and in thanking those dedicated Yukoners in our public works sector who strive every day to improve the quality of life in our territory for all Yukoners.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Hart: I would ask my colleagues in the House to recognize two constituents of mine, Laura Roske and Ross Findlater.
Speaker: Just a small note from the Chair — although their presence was recognized during tributes today, the Chair would wish to state for the record that we had five former members in the gallery today. I am speaking, of course, of Flo Whyard, Eleanor Millard, Ron Veale, Ken McKinnon and Mike McLarnon.
We also had with us former Yukon Member of Parliament, Louise Hardy.
Thank you for joining us.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I have for tabling the report on the audit of the Yukon government’s performance under the Environment Act, covering the period October 1, 2000, to September 30, 2003.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, in recognition of International Museum Day, I have the document, Yukon Guide to Heritage Attractions, for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, I have also for tabling a document committed to earlier in the sitting from the Conflicts Commissioner of Yukon, outlining the costs of his investigation — slightly under $14,000.
Speaker: Are there any further documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Petition No. 8
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Speaker, I’m very pleased to present a petition to this Assembly that was signed by 84 people in the Kluane region. This is pursuant to section 65 of the Standing Orders.
It’s addressed to the Yukon Legislative Assembly, and I’ll just read the preamble, Mr. Speaker. “This petition of the undersigned shows that the request of YTG Finance that all heating fuel sellers submit detailed monthly sales listings to their office, including date of sale, name of purchaser, location of delivery and quantity of heating fuel sold, is not only intrusive with respect to personal privacy of the customers, it is also cumbersome to the businesses to have to spend the extra time and money to prepare the reports. In addition, it has the potential to divide the community, if the customers feel that the seller is, in effect, spying on their activities and reporting that information to the government. Should the government require information on a specific customer, they can request it from the seller, as they have in the past.
“Therefore, the undersigned ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to revoke this recent regulation requiring the monthly report of heating fuel sales information by the seller to the Department of Finance.”
Speaker: Are there any further petitions?
Petition No. 7 — received
Clerk: Mr. Speaker and honourable members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 7 of the First Session of the 31st Legislative Assembly, as presented by the leader of the third party on May 16, 2005. This petition meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Petition No. 7 is accordingly deemed to be read and received.
Are there any other petitions to be presented?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill No. 109: Introduction and First Reading
Mr. McRobb: I am very pleased on behalf of the official opposition to introduce a bill, entitled Financial Recovery Act. The purpose of this bill is to recover from the MLA for Klondike $300,000 in unpaid business loans due to the Yukon taxpayers.
I move that a bill, entitled Financial Recovery Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the official opposition House leader that a bill, entitled Financial Recovery Act, be now introduced and read a first time. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.
Speaker: I think the nays have it.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 109 negatived
Speaker: Are there any other bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to set a regular calendar for legislative sittings in order to extend the common courtesy of notice and ample planning to the public and Yukon’s professional public servants; and that this practice begin by reconvening this House on October 13, 2005.
Mr. Hardy: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the sexual exploitation of children or adults cannot be tolerated in any society;
(2) all Members of the Legislative Assembly have an obligation to demonstrate ethical leadership; and
(3) the residents of Copperbelt constituency have a right to full-time representation from an elected member they can respect and trust; and
THAT this House calls upon the Member for Copperbelt to resign his seat immediately so that the residents of the electoral district of Copperbelt can elect a new representative before the next sitting of this Assembly.
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to demonstrate moral and ethical leadership by supporting a motion requesting the MLA for Copperbelt to resign his seat immediately.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Alaska-Yukon railroad feasibility study
Mr. Hardy: Whom did the Premier consult before unilaterally promising the Governor of Alaska that he would invest $3 million of Yukon tax money in a railway feasibility study?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I would remind the member opposite that this has been a project that has been looked at, in one way or another, since 1942. It is an ongoing project that has been committed to by both Alaska and Yukon to look at the feasibility of this. According to the studies of Charles River Associates, a very reputable firm with offices in Canada, I might add, there is definitely merit and a “compelling” — their word — interest in taking a look at this.
Question re: All-party committee on appointments to boards and committees
Mr. McRobb: What is preventing the government House leader from honouring the Yukon Party commitment to an all-party committee on appointments to major boards and committees?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: A simple one-word answer — “the opposition parties”.
Question re: Public/private partnerships
Ms. Duncan: The MLA for Watson Lake said in this House that if people make promises during a campaign, they should be accountable for them. The now Premier promised there would be no P3s until a policy was in place. There is no policy in place, and we have two P3 projects on the way — a $50-million bridge in Dawson and a new radio system.
Along the way, we have spent $550,000 on consultants from British Columbia. What excuse does the Yukon Party have for their lack of accountability on this promise?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The member opposite is correct about one thing there — there is no policy in place at this point. But the error in the argument is that there is no P3 in place, either.
Question re: Whistle-blower legislation
Mr. Fairclough: When will the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission stop ignoring the Yukon Party’s election promise to implement effective whistle-blower legislation, which protects the anonymity of public employees who report abuse within government?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As I have stated on the floor of this Legislature on a number of occasions, our government is committed to protecting the well-being of its employees through whistle-blower protection. This is a commitment made by our party during the last election and is outlined in our election platform.
As I have also stated, we are looking to find a non-partisan approach toward addressing this very important issue and, as such, we have proposed using a select committee with the participation of all members of the Legislature. Unfortunately, we do not have the concurrence of all members of the Legislature, but we are still ready and willing to proceed but, again, on the terms of using a select committee of all parties.
As I have said over the past few months, there are a number of different models of whistle-blower legislation being proposed in parts of the country: Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, the federal government. So we are prepared to sit down with members of the opposition, unions, stakeholders, and employees of the Government of Yukon, to look at all the different areas for proceeding with whistle-blower legislation. So we are very much committed to it. I guess the question is: are members of the opposition willing to proceed?
Question re: Occupational health and safety regulations
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, where is the minister’s signature on the much-needed occupational health and safety regulations that were developed through two years of consultation and which have the support of both labour and business?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, there currently are very good health and safety regulations in place under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They have been expanded by our government to encompass the areas that were not previously undertaken, which were oil and gas. Under the previous administrations, there was no oil and gas activity. Now under our party’s commitment to restore investor confidence in the Yukon economy and to rebuild the Yukon economy, we have oil and gas exploration that is taking place in southeast Yukon this last while and up in the north Yukon this last while.
So we needed regulations to encompass those fields. It’s no use making regulations for space shuttles when we don’t have any, but that might possibly happen under our watch.
Question re: Violence against women and children
Mrs. Peter: Why did the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate fail to demonstrate her support for the principle that sexual exploitation is intolerable in any society when offered the opportunity to do so yesterday afternoon?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Let me be unequivocally clear: this government, our government, does not condone violence against women and children. We do not. Our words and actions are very clear. Just look at the number of accomplishments performed by this government demonstrated through dollars, resources and initiatives within the Women’s Directorate, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Services. There are a number of initiatives, including women’s forums to discuss these very issues, public education, and a long-term education public campaign, something which we received all-party unanimous support for in this Legislature to proceed with. We are working with the departments of Justice, Health and Social Services and so forth in this particular regard. We have engaged in a number of violence prevention education initiatives, again working with our stakeholders, such as the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre on public education programs. There are a number of other things — the aboriginal women and violence initiatives, to which we have contributed up to $100,000 in promoting women’s wellness and safety within our communities. We are working on a number of fronts to stop violence against women and children.
Question re: Business loans, outstanding
Mr. Hardy: When will the Member for Klondike do what he has demanded of the City of Dawson and pay his outstanding debts?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As the leader of the official opposition well knows, this is the government that actually put the delinquent files into collection. Past governments have never taken the delinquent files — and, when I say “delinquent”, those that were not honouring their liability — and put them into collection. We have, and that includes the Member for Klondike. We haven’t put the City of Dawson into collection. We’re working with the City of Dawson to address what past governments have created: a financial disaster in a community in the Yukon by allowing decisions to be made outside of the Municipal Act. We all know what has transpired, given the report that was tabled in this Legislative Assembly and the problems that Dawson City faces.
We are working with the city to address their problems. We are going to look to the future and put Dawson back on sound financial footing. The Member for Klondike is now under collection — what a difference.
Question re: Whitehorse Copper subdivision
Ms. Duncan: The now Premier said, “People make promises during a campaign and should be accountable for them.” During the 2002 election campaign, the Member for Copperbelt, who ran on the Yukon Party ticket, and the Yukon Party candidate for Mount Lorne, wrote an open letter regarding the Whitehorse Copper subdivision. Their letter clearly stated that this proposal should not proceed.
Two and a half years later and the subdivision is under construction. This was a clear election promise that has been broken. Why is the Yukon Party failing to be accountable for this election promise and ignoring residents who are not happy with the development?
Hon. Mr. Hart: With regard to the development in question, when we came into power we reviewed the subdivision in question. We worked with the City of Whitehorse on this particular aspect. Substantial adjustments were made. We provided some additional work. We had some further consultation with the community. This was also the very first project that was put through the CEAA process as a subdivision, and we went through that process and followed up.
We have submitted our findings to the City of Whitehorse. The City of Whitehorse has recently indicated that they will go forth with the subdivision, and I am awaiting their final response and official correspondence on that matter.
Question re: Medical travel allowance
Mr. McRobb: Why is the Health and Social Services minister refusing to implement a policy on outpatient travel that reflects the financial reality facing Yukoners who go Outside for medical treatment, and the helpers who escort them?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: We have done more as a government to resource the Department of Health and Social Services to complete facilities and the areas identified by the member opposite than any other government previously.
The member opposite is going to go on and compare what is provided here in the Yukon with what is provided in the Northwest Territories, and it’s not a fair comparison given that the Northwest Territories has a deductible of $250 per patient and per escort. So if you add that into the equation where we have no deductible but an initial waiting period, and you look at the overall package that is provided for the Yukon, it is one of the best in Canada, if not the best. We have no charge for air evacuation, ambulances — the whole gamut of the movement of people for medical attention is well addressed here in the Yukon and, subject to future funds being received by the Yukon from Canada, which we anticipate depending on what’s going to happen to the federal government, we are looking at enhancing other areas.
Question re: Public/private partnerships
Mr. Fairclough: Who did the Premier take advice from before embarking on this pursuit for public/private partnerships with no policy in place and no recognition of the additional costs to taxpayers that are associated with such projects?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Again for the member opposite, who again knows quite well that there are no P3s at this point, there is a process to look at this. Responses to the request for proposals are due, I believe, on the 24th of this month, at which point they will be opened, they will be evaluated, a business case will be made and, at that point, the information will be made public.
Again, the member opposite is referring to something that doesn’t exist. There are no P3s at this point in time in the territory.
Question re: Canada Winter Games, athletes village
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, why hasn’t the Minister of Community Services told the Yukon people that the government has awarded another major sole-sourced contract — surprise, surprise — to an Outside firm for project management at the athletes village for the 2007 Canada Winter Games?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We got advice from Outside with regard to budget management. We have to take control of this project. This individual has expertise in this particular field, and we are using a totally local person to run the operation here in the Yukon.
Question re: Health care professionals, recruitment and retention
Ms. Duncan: The MLA for Watson Lake said in Hansard that if people make promises during a campaign, they should be accountable for them. The Yukon Party made a promise to improve health care. There are a number of Yukoners who do not have a family doctor. These orphan patients are tired of waiting for this minister to act. In two and a half years, the Minister of Health and Social Services has not improved the situation for these people. If anything, it has gotten worse. Why is this issue so low on the minister’s priority list, and when will this election promise be kept?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If there was ever an election promise that is being kept by a government, it is the commitments that we are addressing under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Social Services. One of the issues among many — and I can cite many — that we are addressing is the issue of childcare, prescriptions, chronic drugs, FASD. The list goes on and on and on. But on the issue of health care professionals and medical doctors, we have initiatives underway in cooperation with the Yukon Medical Association, and we’re making progress. Currently, we have one of the best ratios of doctors to population of any place in Canada, and it’s improving.
Question re: Kyoto Protocol
Mrs. Peter: When can Yukoners expect the Minister of Environment to take the problem of climate change seriously and live up to his obligation to work with the federal government to develop a made-in-Yukon plan for implementing the Kyoto Protocol?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The Kyoto Protocol calls for the reduction in greenhouse emissions to 50 percent of what was tracked in 1990 by the year 2050. Currently, as of the end of last year, we are at a 60-percent reduction. We’re well ahead of the curve in many respects. In fact, we lead in all respects in this area of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that are currently being tracked.
So, we’re way ahead of the curve, we understand what the issues are, we know what we have to address, and we are doing exactly that.
Question re: Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm
Mr. Hardy: When will the Premier or the Minister of Environment offer fair compensation to the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm? Will it be before or after the government is forced to do so by the courts, because that is what’s coming.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Let me share with the House what is transpiring on this file. The owners of this herd of reindeer gave up ownership to the Yukon government. They voluntarily did so, Mr. Speaker.
Now, it is the government’s intention — we have engaged an independent appraiser to determine the value of the herd. The next part of that is that we have engaged veterinarians to determine the health of the herd. Subject to that herd being healthy, we will be offering the owners of the reindeer herd an ex gratia payment of a sum of money that is meant to compensate them for voluntarily surrendering the ownership of the herd to the Yukon government.
Question re: Emergency medical services
Mr. McRobb: Why has the Health and Social Services minister failed to tell Yukon people that his ill-advised scheme to transfer emergency medical services to the Yukon Hospital Corporation has flatlined and shows no signs of recovery?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Our government’s intention is to provide the highest consistent level of care to Yukoners in all categories of the services we provide.
The issue of EMS service is one of paramount importance to us as a government. What we have done to address this is that, last fiscal period, we purchased two new four-wheel-drive ambulances. This fiscal period, we have purchased two new type III ambulances. They will be going into Whitehorse. Further to that, we have identified a need for clothing. We spent about an additional $250,000 on clothing for our EMS volunteers as well as additional training across the whole Yukon for all our EMS volunteers. Training, clothing, equipment — they were of the highest importance. We are doing our level best and we’ll continue to do so to provide the highest consistent level of care to Yukoners when they need it.
Question re: Government office accommodation
Mr. Fairclough: What is the Minister of Highways and Public Works doing now embracing the former government’s so-called one-stop shop when the Premier himself is on record as calling it a waste of money?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are in the final stages. We’ve just completed the devolution transfer agreement with the federal government. We are trying to revamp the situation from renewal from the previous government and we’re going through an establishment of space requirements for all our staff. That is the process we are in and once we are complete, we will finalize those moves.
Question re: Housing
Mr. Cardiff: What steps is the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation taking to ensure that the next phase of the Canada-Yukon affordable housing initiative will be based on a definition of affordability that truly meets the needs of those most in need: low-income Yukon families and senior citizens?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: For the member opposite’s information, we have had meetings on this issue with the federal minister and the federal parliamentary secretary responsible for housing. We’ve had individual territorial meetings, as well as provincial-territorial meetings and federal meetings.
It’s my belief at this point that the federal minister does understand some of the problems but has difficulty in dealing with the Cabinet — whichever Cabinet will survive this week.
We do have a primary consideration and responsibility for delivery under the affordable housing agreement. What the member opposite doesn’t appreciate is that Canada unilaterally decided how much money would be available in the Yukon. They unilaterally came up with the 10-year affordable criteria and they unilaterally came up with the definition of affordability.
They unilaterally came up with the program and said, “If you want to access the dollars, then here are the non-negotiable criteria.” To access that money, Mr. Speaker, we must create new housing units as defined under the affordable housing agreement.
The member opposite confuses the affordable housing agreement with housing that’s affordable. We have to live with the federal guidelines and the federal agreement.
Question re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Mrs. Peter: Why did the Premier not advise the Governor of Alaska that the Yukon would not provide financial support for a railway feasibility study unless the governor agreed to not allow drilling for oil and gas in the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First let me answer the last part of the question. The Government of Yukon and the Yukon Territory have long been consistent in the position of protecting the critical habitat for the Porcupine caribou herd. We’ve demonstrated that time and time again, whether it be with the Governor of Alaska, the President of the United States, or the Prime Minister. Frankly now, through our persistence, the Prime Minister is working closely with Washington on this very issue, given there’s a national interest in developing an energy strategy. That’s important here.
Secondly, this government, this Yukon Party government, will never ever leverage projects and initiatives like a potential rail link to Alaska in this manner. If the NDP want to do that, go ahead. Take that position and articulate it clearly to the Yukon public. We are clearly demonstrating we would never do that because we can work with Alaska on the potential concept of a railway and we can ensure the protection of the Porcupine caribou herd at the same time. That’s leadership.
Question re: First Nations/government relations
Mr. Hardy: Well, just to remind people: suppress military use of railway information so that Yukon people don’t know what’s going on. Now what is the Premier doing to turn his promise to treat First Nation governments as equals into a reality instead of just rhetoric, as we just heard?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: If what’s happening in today’s Yukon is rhetoric to the member opposite, I think it’s clear that the member opposite doesn’t understand what is going on in today’s Yukon. The future of the Yukon is a big secret to the official opposition — hardly a logical choice to lead this territory. One example is all I have to state here in this Assembly: the Yukon Forum. We are now with First Nations in partnership developing legislation to give the Yukon Forum legislative structure. We have gone a great distance in partnering with First Nations. Whether it be on the economy, whether it be children in care, whether it be correctional reform or educational reform, across the spectrum in this territory we have engaged with First Nation governments in a cooperative, productive and constructive manner and we are collectively building a brighter future for Yukoners. The members opposite have missed that.
Question re: Alaska-Yukon railroad feasibility study
Ms. Duncan: The MLA for Watson Lake, when he was on this side of the House, said that people make promises during a campaign and they should be accountable for them. The now Premier promised in this House that the public would be very involved in the feasibility study for the railway. So far, the only public involvement has been witnessing the Premier, without public discussions, spend a great deal of the public’s money. Yukon taxpayers, including members of the Legislature, have not been involved. There has been no opportunity for the public to submit a name for this hand-picked Yukon Party railway commission. There is no boarding pass for the average Yukoner on this Premier’s train.
When will the public be told by the Premier who is appointed to the railway commission and what the terms of reference are?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Again, for the member opposite, the negotiations and discussions and evaluations of an Alaska-Yukon and southern railroad have been going on since 1942, so it’s an amazing thing that this has been so secretive. But going back to the leader of the official opposition’s comment of the militarization, since 1992 the Transport Dangerous Goods Directorate has been negotiating with the provinces and territorial partners the terms of agreements respecting the administration of the transport of dangerous goods.
Speaker: Order please. I know that the Chair allowed the leader of the official opposition to bootleg on, in terms of a question. I would ask that the minister not do that. Just answer the question you have been asked by the leader of the third party, not the leader of the official opposition, please.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Once again, for the member opposite, such a marvellous job of keeping this whole railroad under wraps — since 1942 this has been under discussion. The creation of a feasibility study to look at all aspects of this — Charles River Associates have looked at all aspects of this. They have concluded very firmly that there is a compelling reason to do a feasibility study.
Now, that is exactly what we’re doing. We’re doing a feasibility study to determine if this is something to continue with. That is what has been indicated that we should do, and that’s what we will do. We will look at all aspects of this railroad — the economic benefits to all partners and the benefits and job creation in this territory. We have to diversify the economy. This is one way of diversifying it.
Question re: Coal-fired plant
Mr. McRobb: Why doesn’t the Energy minister tell us how he plans to reconcile the boost in greenhouse gases from his back-to-the-future-with-coal approach with commitments made under the Kyoto Accord?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We are certainly aware of the energy needs of this jurisdiction, and Yukon Energy Corporation is working on those issues. I will tell the member opposite that there will be no coal-fired generation in the future as long as I’m the minister. We are looking at hydro instead of diesel, so we’re working very positively with environmental concerns.
Question re: First Nations education
Mr. Fairclough: What is the plan of the Minister of Education or the acting minister to respond in a meaningful way to the desire of several Yukon First Nations to draw down the authority of education under their self-government and final agreements?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Actually, this particular area of education falls within the Executive Council Office as it is related to the treaties. Of course, the member opposite well knows that if we are given formal notice, the Yukon government, Canada, and whatever First Nation government is making the choice to take down education, must engage in the negotiation of a programs and services transfer agreement. We will live up to that obligation on all counts. It is what has been committed to through the land claims process. We actually look forward to those negotiations, should any First Nation want to pursue that particular aspect of their treaty.
At the same time, we are partnering with First Nations on educational reform, looking to change the public system to be more responsive and reflective of First Nation culture, needs and the demands of today’s Yukon — more focus on trades, skill sets and technology. Those types of things are very important for the future of the Yukon. That’s why we’re doing our work now in partnership with Yukon First Nations.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker: Member for Kluane, on a point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I believe with all due respect the time for Question Period has not elapsed because of your previous interruption of the Economic Development minister, which consumed 25 seconds; therefore the cut-off is extended another 25 seconds and we’re still below that deadline, I might add.
Speaker: It is my understanding that you are just under by three seconds, I’ve been advised by the Table Officers. The leader of the official opposition, you’re on.
Question re: Government attitude
Mr. Hardy: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. All through this Question Period we’ve had reminders of what this sitting has been about. It has been about a government that won’t listen, a government that won’t answer to the people of the Yukon. It has been about a government that makes secret deals and suppresses information, a government that pits groups of Yukon people against each other. It has been about a government that refuses to be held accountable for its actions —
Speaker: Order please. Once again, I knew this was going to come back to haunt me. The leader of the official opposition yesterday used the terminology “pitting Yukoners against Yukoners”; I didn’t call it. My mistake. Please do not use that terminology. You have the floor.
Mr. Hardy: I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that I used it yesterday.
How does the Premier plan to restore the confidence of Yukon people in their government when this is what they see on a daily basis in this House?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: With great pleasure, I will respond to the leader of the official opposition on how we plan to do that. We plan to continue to build on one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. We plan on continuing to ensure people are moving into the Yukon. We plan on continuing to build and recreate investor confidence in this territory. We plan to promote and develop responsibly our resources. We plan to grow our tourism industry. We plan to continue to invest in the arts and cultural areas of economic growth, in the film industry, in the sound industry. We plan to continue to strengthen our social fabric through more investments on the social side of the ledger. We plan to continue to improve and enhance education.
Today we announced a major initiative toward that end by investing in the Yukon College, using the Canada Winter Games as the impetus. We now will have the ability, post-2007, to bring rural Yukoners into Yukon College to advance their education, improve their capacity, build their skill sets, with more focus on trades.
The list is a long one, Mr. Speaker. We have a lot of plans, we have a vision for the future of the territory, we’re carrying it out. That’s why Yukoners are much more optimistic today than they were some two and a half years ago.
Mr. Hardy: That thumping is very polite in the Legislature, isn’t it?
Now, all through this sitting, we’ve seen this government go on the offensive whenever it has been challenged. Generally, they try to target the opposition for asking questions that they don’t want to answer. We’re used to that and we can take it, but the Yukon people deserve better. They do not deserve to be treated in that manner. They deserve a government that does not treat them with scorn. They deserve a government that works with them and that works for them. They deserve a government that involves them in the decisions that are being made.
How is the Premier going to mend all the broken fences he and his ministers are responsible for, with First Nations, with communities and with organizations whose needs they have ignored?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The government is not going to expend any of its time and energy on mending any fence that isn’t broken. In fact, we’ve built many linkages in the last two and a half years with Yukoners, with the corporate community, frontline workers and NGOs, other jurisdictions, First Nations and First Nation governments. It’s those linkages that we’ve built that have created the options we have available today to grow our economy, improve our education system and to strengthen the social fabric of this territory, building a much better and brighter future for the Yukon.
We’ll let Yukoners decide what leadership they want, and who they want in charge of their future — this side of the House with what it has accomplished or that side of the House that has no plan, no vision and who are mired in negativity and actually promote this territory as a place of madness and misery. We’ll let Yukoners decide.
Mr. Hardy: Let’s remind the Premier that his colleagues called the Yukon a cesspool. We’ve heard that statement.
Over and over again we’ve heard this government claim to be meeting its election commitments. Over and over again this side of the House has demonstrated that those election promises are not being kept — lots of talk, but no walk; lots of rhetoric, but no substance. We just heard the Premier go on and on about that.
Over and over again we’ve seen the Premier and other members of this government say and do things that brought the Yukon into the national spotlight, but not in a positive way. The latest example is the Premier’s endorsement of a rail link from Alaska to Alberta to support U.S. military action. That was information denied to the Yukon people by this government. How is the Premier going to repair the damage to Yukon’s image that two and a half years of Yukon Party government has caused?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: This is almost laughable, but let me try to respond. Our image is vastly improved. The Yukon Territory is coming of age. We are on the national radar screen. The examples abound, whether it be the Canada Winter Games, the northern strategy, the increased investment, people moving into the Yukon — the list goes on and on. I can tell you that there is clearly a demonstration in this Assembly. It’s the demonstration by the members opposite that they have no vision or plan for this territory.
The members opposite were in government in the past. They were responsible for the financial situation, which was bad. They were responsible for an exodus of the population. Under their watch, there was double digit unemployment. The evidence today bears out the fact — the demonstration clear — that the Yukon Party government has shown leadership, shown it has a vision, shown it has a plan, delivered over 85 percent of our commitments already in this mandate. The members opposite avoid.
Speaker: Much to my disappointment, the time for Question Period has elapsed. We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter under debate is Bill No. 15, First Appropriation Act, 2005-06. Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We’ll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 15, First Appropriation Act, 2005-06. We will continue on with general debate on Vote 51, the Department of Community Services.
Bill No. 15 — First Appropriation Act, 2005-06 — continued
Department of Community Services — continued
Hon. Mr. Hart: We were discussing the sewage situation in Dawson last night. If the member will bear with me, I’ll provide him with what I consider to be a very in-depth process of what we plan to do in Dawson City.
Adequate and affordable sewage treatment for Dawson City has been an issue for each of the three parties in the House during their times as government.
A water licence issued to Dawson in January 1997 required improvements to the sewage treatment facility and that secondary treatment be provided by January 2000. The City of Dawson determined that secondary sewage treatment was beyond their financial capability. To overcome this problem, the town intended to request deferral of the secondary sewage treatment facility for a number of years. At that time, the capital and operational costs for constructing and operating a secondary treatment facility were increasing rapidly.
The Yukon government had assisted Dawson by providing financial support in the 1990s to upgrade the water and sewer mains, and engineers were recommending that Dawson would need to decrease its water consumption to reduce the O&M costs of the secondary sewage treatment plant.
The NDP government of the day supported Dawson’s request to postpone the construction of the secondary facility, as long as satisfactory protection of the environment was provided in the interim and a postponement of the sewage treatment facility did not cause environmental problems.
When the Liberal government came to power, it attempted to help the City of Dawson’s balance, both by its priorities — one being the recreation centre and the other being secondary sewage treatment. The Liberal government did this by agreeing to amend the capital funding agreement to allow both projects to proceed at the same time.
The original capital funding agreement required the City of Dawson to delay construction of the new recreation centre until after the completion of the sewage treatment plant. The sewage treatment plant was by then not expected to be completed until 2004, much later than the City of Dawson wanted to begin the recreation centre. In fact, Dawson had already begun construction of the recreation centre.
The Yukon government and the City of Dawson entered into a revised capital funding agreement, wherein the Yukon government contributed $4.8 million to the sewage treatment project, but the City of Dawson was still required to meet its sewage treatment obligations. Not everyone agreed with the compromise. Some groups thought the secondary waste-water treatment should be implemented immediately. While the Yukon Territory Water Board recommended to the federal minister in December 1999 that the water licence term be extended to December 1, 2005, it also required that a waste-water treatment facility be designed, constructed and operated to meet the specific effluent quality standards by December 1, 2002.
The federal minister did not approve the recommended licence. Consequently, the town’s water licence expired at the end of 1999. Dawson commenced an assessment with EPCOR water services division out of Edmonton to determine the feasibility of their becoming involved in the operation and management of a sewage treatment facility. Final arrangements between the town and EPCOR were dependent upon conducting an amended CFA, and once that amendment was made, research and planning began. The town decided to proceed with the secondary treatment facility and set the target completion date for December 2004. To assist Dawson with its excess waste-water volumes, the Yukon government applied for and received approval for a water licence application, permitting the use of an existing Yukon government disposal pit on the Dempster Highway for sewage eduction from outside the town’s piped collection system.
The plan was to assist in reducing the waste-water concentrations and volumes being deposited into the river through the town’s facility and perhaps reduce capital and operating costs of the proposed secondary treatment facility. Then on the afternoon of January 3, 2001, the Yukon government was alerted that members of the RCMP and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had entered Dawson’s town office to search for documents related to Dawson’s sewage treatment operation. As you will recall, Dawson was operating without a current water licence. In August 2000, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans laid charges against Dawson under the Fisheries Act for discharge of deleterious substances into fish-bearing waters of the Yukon River.
Dawson pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined $5,000 in order to have the sewage treatment plant operational by September 2004. If not, additional fines of $5,000 a month would be assessed each month to March 2006. With the support of the Yukon government, the city appealed the decision and the Yukon government continued to stand by its commitment to support Dawson with the funding required to proceed with a sewage treatment facility.
When the Yukon Party government came to power there were three processes at work simultaneously: one legal, one functional, and one regulatory. The legal process involved the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ original charge, the court’s decision and Dawson’s appeal of that court decision.
Functionally, Dawson was working to meet the requirements of the water licence for sewage treatment. The Yukon government was funding Dawson as it engaged engineering design and environmental consultants to work with EPCOR on a new sewage treatment facility.
Under the regulatory process, my government recognized that this issue was a concern for the entire territory given potential future requirements and standards for effluents that could be imposed on other Yukon communities. The standards being applied are considerably more stringent than those enforced in other regions. Since devolution, the Yukon government now has more latitude for customizing a regulatory framework, but we still need to investigate and fully understand options for affordable and responsible approaches to waste management.
In 2002 a water licence application was submitted from Dawson City to the Yukon Territory Water Board to construct and operate a secondary sewage treatment plant. Dawson received its water licence, effective April 17, 2003. With devolution, the Premier was the water licence approving authority and, by signing this water licence, Dawson now had a water licence for the first time since January 2000.
By 2003, the total project cost for the sewage treatment plant was estimated at $9.4 million and the Yukon government was expecting to fund 90 percent of the approved project expenditures. Canada-Yukon infrastructure program funding had been approved for the implementation of the water bleeder program. The revised capital funding agreement was reviewed to address the updated cost estimates.
At this point, the estimated project cost escalated dramatically and operation costs were becoming a huge concern. While total capital cost estimates for this project had more than doubled from 1999 to 2003, annual operating costs over the same period had also doubled.
As a government, we knew the community could not sustain this level of expenditure. My government continued the task undertaken by the previous government to work with the City of Dawson to review the financial requirements and the implications that these could have on a design and the water licence application.
While we continued to monitor the City of Dawson’s progress on the new sewage treatment facility and participated on the management team for the project, we realized a better solution was needed if Dawson was to have an adequate, environmentally sensitive and — keyword — affordable sewage treatment system that met the Water Board’s terms.
The systems that Dawson City had been working on with EPCOR toward a design for a sequencing batch reactor waste-water treatment plant were just too expensive. This government’s commitment was to finding an affordable solution, communicating and discussing options with affected parties and moving forward on implementation. Working together with the Yukon government, Dawson’s consultants prepared a detailed report outlining alternatives to the sequencing batch reactor waste-water treatment plant.
The report was submitted to the courts jointly by Dawson’s council and the Crown attorney with the request for a time expansion. It also formed the basis of the water licence amendment application now being considered by the Yukon Water Board.
In August 2004, the Yukon courts recognized the work that had been done, especially by the Yukon staff, and granted an extension for the facility construction to December 2008 to continue to investigate options and construct a sewage treatment facility. The Chief Justice of the Territorial Court replaced the original court order with another order that the City of Dawson construct and operate a sewage treatment facility by the end of 2008 and that Dawson report progress to the court every six months. The first report was submitted in February 2005. The court supports the Yukon government’s efforts to evaluate irrigated lagoons as a viable treatment process for Dawson.
Now we come to the current situation: the ongoing financial issues in Dawson will not prevent construction of a suitable sewage treatment facility. Work is already underway to develop a cost-effective treatment facility that meets Dawson’s environmental obligations. At Dawson’s request, the Yukon government has agreed to assume a management role for this project. Public information sessions began in March of this year.
Upon issuance of the revised court order, Dawson determined that the potential exists for a ground-based treatment system with more affordable O&M costs. Pilot testing of an aerated lagoon and other options began in March and will continue through the summer to find a cost-effective and suitable treatment process. An evaluation will be made next spring. Existing irrigated lagoon systems in Alaska, northern British Columbia and Alberta are also being investigated to determine whether they would perform well in Dawson’s climate.
An application is being prepared to fund this project under the Canada strategic infrastructure fund. As part of the research into irrigated lagoons, my department is examining existing facilities to determine if the aerated technology would work in Dawson, especially during the cold months.
The department has gathered the historic performance of these irrigated lagoons to ensure that they would meet the required regulatory requirements. Through this process, a number of irrigated lagoons were identified, specifically North Pole, Alaska.
The North Pole lagoon has been in operation for 20 years, during which time there has never been an odour complaint and the lagoon has constantly met its regulatory requirements. North Pole has nearly the identical climate and as such provides an existing lagoon system that can be used as a model of an irrigated lagoon for Dawson City.
Land applications have been made for land reserves for a potential site for an irrigated lagoon system. Due to a lack of a large, flat section of land within close proximity to Dawson, we wanted to take the precautionary measure of reserving the land to try to ensure that the most viable site would not be lost to other interests during the evaluation of the irrigated lagoon process.
The costs associated with the less desirable sites would significantly increase the capital and operational costs associated with the construction and operation of an irrigated lagoon in Dawson City. The operational costs associated with a mechanical plant are approximately double that of an irrigated lagoon. Based on the work completed for the initial sequencing batch reactor, the operational costs were in excess of half a million dollars annually. Preliminary operation numbers for an irrigated lagoon are approximately half that amount.
The department is working closely with Environment Canada, the courts, Yukon Environment and Dawson City to ensure that the pilot plan addresses all their concerns. This government is moving forward on the long-standing issue of sewage treatment for Dawson City. We are committed to finding and implementing a solution that is affordable to build and operate, is environmentally friendly and that meets the regulatory requirements under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Mr. Cardiff: I thank the minister for the information and a brief history lesson.
I had some other questions that I’d like to raise with the minister today in the short time that we have left. I suppose I could probably go on for days and days about all kinds of things that are in Community Services. It’s a large department, but the time is brief.
I’d like the minister to update me on the status and the outcomes to date on the rural public drinking water access consultation.
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have just completed a comprehensive consultation throughout the entire Yukon. We are in the process now of compiling that information to prepare a document to be submitted to Cabinet and recommendations based on the information gathered from that extensive consultation process.
Mr. Cardiff: When does the minister expect that document to reach Cabinet, and when will it be available to the public?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We anticipate it will take approximately two months to complete the work to get to Cabinet, and shortly thereafter we hope to be in a position to release it to the public.
Mr. Cardiff: I look forward to seeing that document, and I know the minister will send it down as soon as it’s available.
I have another question on a different subject. Last fall in the Legislature, the minister committed to review the minimum wage. We had a fairly lengthy discussion about the minimum wage and the need to have it reviewed.
Recently in the Legislature, the Member for Whitehorse West announced that there is a review that has just been undertaken recently. So I have two questions for the minister on that one: why did it take so long to ask for the Employment Standards Board to review the minimum wage, and when does he expect it to be completed?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I have requested that the Employment Standards Board review the minimum wage for the process. They have that information and will do that, but while I’m doing that, I’d advise the member opposite that the Employment Standards Board is also reviewing the fair wage schedule and they have indicated to me that, until that is complete, they will not address the minimum wage.
Mr. Cardiff: That’s unfortunate. Hopefully there will be some changes to the minimum wage. The minimum wage hasn’t changed in quite a number of years — I don’t have the figure right in front of me, but if memory serves me correctly, there has been no increase in the minimum wage for about seven years. That needs to be looked at; it’s important for people who are working in low-paying jobs.
I have one other question in regard to a similar topic: the Yukon Party platform committed to “ensure fair treatment for federal employees and Yukon government employees who were affected by the Northern Affairs program devolution transfer agreement.”
What’s the minister doing to address the issue of wages for emergency firefighters? They are severely underpaid and they deserve to be paid the same amount as the people who are working in permanent positions or seasonal positions, right next to them on the fire line — they’re not being paid the same amount of money. What’s the minister going to do to live up to that platform commitment?
Hon. Mr. Hart: On that issue, we are living up to that agreement. In fact, we have increased the wage we are paying those employees under the EFF — emergency firefighter — system as compared to what was previously being paid under DIAND. Also, essentially we are reviewing the EFF rate of pay for all workers related in that category, and I anticipate having something shortly.
Mr. Cardiff: One more question on that subject. I look forward to what happens on that front, and I’ll be paying close attention to what happens as far as emergency firefighter wages go. Emergency firefighters are paid under, I believe, 3.5.6 or something along those lines in the General Administration Manual. There’s a whole policy set out in the General Administration Manual just to deal with emergency firefighters. Is that going to change?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I said, we will be reviewing the situation for EFFs and, once that deal is complete, we will provide the member opposite with the results of same.
Mr. Cardiff: Another item that just came up recently — and I asked the minister about this in the Legislature in Question Period the other day. The minister didn’t go all the way with making a commitment. In Carcross, the footbridge — the minister has committed to agree that there’s a severe public safety problem there and indicated that they’re undertaking to obtain the necessary permits for the removal of the bridge. This is a matter that seems to be very dear to the heart of the community there. I’ve been the recipient of a bit of correspondence about that bridge. Can the minister tell us what the plans are for the replacement of that bridge? Do they intend to replace it?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I stated in the House, we are aware of the situation with regard to the safety concept with regard to that bridge. That bridge was built a substantial number of years ago by the community of Carcross. We have done an assessment of that bridge through our engineers in the Department of Highways and Public Works.
We are in the process, as the member indicated, of obtaining the appropriate licensing from the Water Board, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as well as fresh water — obtaining a permit so that we can dismantle the bridge entirely. We are also in the process of consulting with the community, all aspects of the community, on what is to be done with that bridge. It just wouldn’t be until such time as that consultation is complete and what we’re going to do with that bridge, if it is going to be rebuilt. I will advise the member opposite that not all members of the community have indicated that that’s a high priority for them, but we are also working with the community and CAAPC, the Carcross Area Advisory Planning Committee, as well as the First Nation on the issue of waterfront development. Now, we’re trying to see if that is going to form part of that development on that process, or whether it’s going to have a high enough priority that it may have to wait and be delayed. But in essence, we’re looking for the safety of the community, the citizens of Carcross, and our first priority is to dismantle the bridge and get everything done necessary to meet that requirement.
Mr. Cardiff: Can the minister tell us what the time frame is for the consultation on the capital projects in Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We anticipate something around the end of June. We understand the First Nation is going to ratification. We have further consultation with CAAPC with regard to the waterfront, and we anticipate having something by the end of June.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Chair, I want to go back to something I raised in Question Period today. There was a press release that came out today about the athletes village.
Could the minister enlighten us as to the contracts that have been issued? It’s my understanding that they’ve hired somebody to design the facility. Can the minister advise us who is designing it and what the cost of that sole-sourced contract was? Also, what was the cost of the sole-sourced contract for somebody to manage the construction of the project? As well, a local person has been hired to oversee the project. How much are we paying that person? Can the minister give us that information, please?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I obviously don’t have that particular information directly in front of me, but I will state for the member opposite that we have a very serious time crunch with respect to building this facility. With that comes the necessity of having to do sole-source contracts for some issues.
One of the other issues is to have capable people to oversee the construction of these facilities, and we have gone forth on that process. As I mentioned to the member opposite during Question Period, a local person is handling the construction of the project management here in the Yukon. As well, we are using local management people for the overall project. We are utilizing an Outside firm to enhance that because of their purchasing power and dealing with larger companies on a pre-fab basis so that they can obtain the appropriate buying power in order to buy these units and get them up in time.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister didn’t answer those questions, and if he doesn’t have the information in front of him, I would appreciate getting the information on the design, the people who have been hired to do the design and the cost of that sole-source contract, the company that’s managing the construction, the name of that company and the cost of that contract, as well as the local individual who is being used as the government’s agent on the project and how much we’re paying that person.
The minister didn’t answer the question. I understand the time crunch, but they made an announcement four months ago that they were going to come to the rescue of the city and the Canada Winter Games on this project. It has been four months, and what did we get? We got a little sketch and a press release. I think the public deserves a bit more information than that.
By the sounds of it, we’re now going to end up with something that’s prefab somewhere else. That doesn’t do a lot for local hire and local benefits. Can the minister tell us when the actual construction of the project will be tendered, what type of tender it’s going to be — will it be an invitational tender or a public tender, or will we go back to sole-sourcing — and when does he anticipate the construction to begin?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The tender for the actual units will be an invitational tender. We have very few companies in Canada that can perform and build these units in such a massive quantity to meet our requirements. All the projects in the Yukon — electrical, foundation construction, anything to do with the hookup in the Yukon — will all be tendered out.
Mr. Cardiff: So it will be a public tender. The minister didn’t tell us when he expects the construction to begin, so he still has that question to answer, and two more questions: will the fair wage and the business incentive program apply to this project?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The fair wage schedule will apply to this actual project.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister didn’t say whether or not the business incentive program is going to apply and he still didn’t tell us when the construction is expected to begin.
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are in the process of consulting with the firms from Outside, and I anticipate that when we have completed that, we will have an indication on the specific dates and when we can do that. In the meantime, we are currently underway prepping the site for the units to take place.
Mr. Cardiff: It’s amazing how little the minister has done in four months. For a project that — I can’t remember the exact words of the Minister of Economic Development, but it’s a project that’s definitely behind the eight ball. Not a lot seems to have happened since they made the big announcement that they were going to help out on this project.
I’m going to move on to another topic area. The minister knows full well — the issue has been raised by me on numerous occasions and recently by the leader of the third party — about the commitment made by the Yukon Party during the election with regard to the Whitehorse Copper land development. There has been some movement on that and, as the minister indicated, the city did approve the subdivision bylaw with some changes.
Is it the minister’s intention to move together cooperatively with the city on this matter, or are they going to end up, like I say, with a take-it-or-leave it situation with the minister on this?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I stated in Question Period, we have followed the process. We provided that particular development with additional consultation. It is the first application in the Subdivision Act to go through the YEAA process. We downsized the project substantially from its original date, and we submitted that to the City of Whitehorse as our plan of action for the development of that process.
Now, the City of Whitehorse, from what I understand from a recent meeting, made an approval of the development with some changes. I haven’t officially received from the city what those are. Once I get that, we will reserve our options and discuss it from that point on. But in essence, once I do receive that particular information from the city, I will bring it to Cabinet, and we will go forward.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, the minister either needs to attend city council meetings or watch them on TV or read the minutes to find out what’s going on, because I’m well aware of what happened at that meeting. It is unfortunate the minister keeps making these statements that “they downsized the subdivision.” The only reason they downsized the subdivision is because the development was outside the limits that are permitted by the official community plan, which was just a little bit of overenthusiastic development on the part of the minister’s department.
Because time is ticking away, I would like to move on to another area of land development and land planning. That’s the Hamlet of Mount Lorne zoning regulations. This is something that has been promised by this minister since just about the day he was elected, and it was promised by the previous minister. There seems to be some holdup on this matter. The citizens of the Hamlet of Mount Lorne are getting really frustrated with all the willy-nilly spot land applications, and it’s causing conflicts between neighbours. It’s causing conflicts between residents and wildlife tourism operators by having all these spot land applications.
What is desired is to have the regulations and to get on with the planned, responsible development. I know that the minister’s department is working with the agriculture branch on a land development, and that’s with the blessing of the hamlet to go out and talk to people. I look forward to attending that meeting and watching how this process unfolds, compared to the process I witnessed with the Whitehorse Copper land development.
But the one key linchpin in all this land development is to have those regulations in place. This is something that the residents have been asking for, for a long time. When does the minister intend to forward the completed regulations for Cabinet approval?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I’ll have to restate and recorrect the member opposite. The reduction of the Whitehorse Copper development had nothing to do with being outside its boundaries. The development was fully within the OCP, the city plan, for country residential. The reduction of the size of the property was to try to meet the demand made by several residents in the area to reduce the impact directly to those behind Wolf Creek north, as well as to reduce the load on the trails and wildlife habitat behind that particular area. So I’ll deal with that particular aspect.
With regard to the Mount Lorne hamlet, as he indicated they’ve been outstanding for some time. My department has been working with the hamlet council to finalize the zoning regulations for some time. A consultant was hired to speed up the drafting of the regulations and this work was completed in January of this year. The hamlet council and community services branch provided the community one last opportunity to view and comment on its final regulations. The review is now complete. The department is now preparing regulations for Cabinet review, but I will also advise the member opposite that there are a couple of other zoning regulations in front of that that have to go through translation into French and the legal aspect also. So there may be a delay in the process, depending where Mount Lorne falls in the queue for legislation. I understand that Mount Lorne is second or third in line and we anticipate that we may have something by late this fall.
Mr. Cardiff: It’s unfortunate. This is the community that, in a lot of ways, led the way on developing land regulations and now we find out that it’s basically being pushed down the ladder. It’s getting queued up behind other hamlets and local area councils that weren’t even in existence when they were doing the work. That’s unfortunate, because they did their work years ago. We don’t expect much more.
The minister also is aware of my concerns around the land development — the spot land applications and the way they are happening.
Now there is an opportunity to proceed with some planned, responsible development, and I’d like the minister’s commitment — I told him I would be watching this process closely — today that the government will work with the community of Mount Lorne on this land development and with the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources’ department in a cooperative manner, and that the wishes of residents out there will be listened to with respect to this proposed land development.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I can assure the member opposite that we’re following the process for land development in Mount Lorne. It will be in conjunction with Energy, Mines and Resources, and there will be a full and open public process on that development, which will involve the citizens of Mount Lorne.
Mr. Cardiff: I asked the minister this question the other day as well, and I didn’t get an answer during Question Period, so I’m hoping I can get an answer today. I asked the minister about the well-drilling program, and I asked him specifically which municipalities the department is working with to get well-drilling programs in other municipalities. The members opposite seem to think I’m focused on my riding. I’m not focused on my riding; I’m focused on rural residents of municipalities. It doesn’t matter whether they’re in Whitehorse, on the south end of Whitehorse or the north end of Whitehorse; it doesn’t matter whether they’re in Haines Junction, Teslin, Carcross or any other municipality. There is the need for a well-drilling program within municipalities just about everywhere in the Yukon.
What I asked the minister the other day was: what municipalities is his department working with on well-drilling programs?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The municipality that we are working directly with currently is the City of Whitehorse. I will advise the member opposite that this situation was brought up at the Association of Yukon Communities meeting in Faro on the weekend, and we have made an offer to all the municipalities that we will provide them with monies at a low interest rate for them to carry on a program very similar to the program we have. They would have to, of course, take on the administration of handling the taxes, similar to what we do. That is what we have indicated.
Now, we have worked with the City of Whitehorse on this particular issue. I know that at AYC, one other community indicated some interest and that was Haines Junction with regard to this program. We may receive something from them also. But that offer has been made to all municipalities, rural or otherwise.
Mr. Cardiff: That answers the question I asked the other day. It’s too bad it took so many days to get the answer.
There’s one other, I guess, flaw I see. I don’t think that the uptake is probably going to be all that big on this. Maybe there aren’t a lot of people out there, but this was brought about because of the high cost of water delivery. This was the government’s answer to the high cost of water delivery.
The minister, with his other hat on in Highways and Public Works, had to implement the National Safety Code for the weight regulations, and it caused the price of a number of commodities in the Yukon to go up, one of them being water.
It affected other vehicles that were hauling other commodities as well. Water is one of the necessities of life. It’s a basic human right so, in order to address the high cost of water delivery, the minister brought in this well-drilling program. Unfortunately, a lot of municipalities don’t have the financial resources to front the money on a program like this.
It’s my understanding that the minister is willing to basically fund the program retroactively, so the municipality administers the program and, at the end of the year, they say, “This is how much money we’ve lent out.” Then they come to the minister and the minister gives them a cheque to cover that cost. But they’re the ones that have to come up with the money initially.
Can the minister see a solution to that problem? It may not be a problem for every municipality, but it may be for some of the municipalities with a smaller tax base.
Hon. Mr. Hart: The member opposite made the statement with respect to water that — under my other hat —the increase of water is directly related to the National Safety Code regarding weight restrictions.
I will state for the record that, yes, we are following the national act. But to blame me for the increased price of water — I don’t think I’ll accept that particular aspect. I’m following the national code for weight restrictions on water. I guarantee the member opposite that, if I were to reverse that particular requirement, the price of water would not reduce — not one penny. That’s just one excuse used to lever the cost up because of that particular aspect.
Anyway, I will follow up on another issue. We have made this offer to all municipalities with respect to the well program. The well program, as we indicated, is a loan program; it is not a grant. People who access the well program will have to pay it back. It’s just an option. I have stressed, on several occasions, that it’s an option. It’s not everybody’s option. In some places — the water, for example, on my property at Marsh Lake is 700 feet down.
I’m not paying $50,000 to pump 700 feet of water, not to mention what it’s going to cost me to pump the water up that high. That’s just not an option for me.
I also know that north of town, water is also very scarce. People have to understand that. It’s an option if you’re in an area where wells are of a reasonable depth; then it’s a reasonable option because of the high cost of getting your water delivered. It’s an option; it’s not the panacea for the process.
We made it an option because it’s an option we can deliver. We couldn’t deliver it within a municipality, so, as the member opposite indicated, how do we deal with it? We provided an option to the municipalities of lending them the money so they can install that program within their jurisdiction. They would have to administer it the same way.
Secondly, we went out on a very broad-based consultative process on water delivery and water issues throughout the Yukon, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Social Services. We’ve just completed that process and are awaiting the results of that report and will be more than happy to provide a copy of that report to the member opposite when it’s available. We’ll be looking at the recommendations coming out of that report.
Mr. Cardiff: I’d like to ask the minister if he could provide some details on the request for proposals for the Carmacks sewage treatment that was recently in the paper. It’s a design/build project. Is the request for proposals a public document? Could he make it available?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The ad in the paper is a request for qualifications for that, and right now it’s currently proprietary information.
Mr. Cardiff: The government is not very forthcoming with a lot of information. I’d like the minister — the minister’s not going to provide that information. I thank the minister and his department for providing the information that was requested in the technical briefing. A sheet was provided about the extraordinary expenditures for Dawson City in 2004-05, and it lists them. Could the minister give us an explanation? It lists the contribution agreement. What I’d like to know is, is that the normal contribution agreement with the municipality, or is that over and above the normal contribution agreement?
Hon. Mr. Hart: That’s over and above. That’s extraordinary.
Mr. Cardiff: So basically what the minister is saying is that denying democracy in Dawson has cost almost $3 million in the past fiscal year. That’s what the total is. It’s $2,899,970 over and above what the normal municipal grant for Dawson City is.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I would suggest that it’s not denying democracy; I would suggest that it is enabling democracy.
Mr. Cardiff: Could the minister provide us with a time frame? This situation in Dawson has gone on for a number of years now. We have witnessed elections in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and there is still no democracy in Dawson. Could the minister please tell us when he anticipates a date? I mean a firm date: what month in what year will there be an election in Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As the member opposite so adamantly indicated, the situation in Dawson has been going on for a substantial amount of time. I suggest to the member opposite that a substantial amount of money has been paid to Dawson to get to the situation we are at. This is also an amount of money, I believe, that at least indicates where we’re going to go. With regard to his direct question, we’re in the process of completing a financial statement for the City of Dawson for last year and the year before. That is currently underway. When that is complete and we know what the financial bottom line is for the City of Dawson, we will work from that point forward. Currently, the trustee and the committee are working on the long-range plan for Dawson City on its capital needs and requirements while the financial audit is taking place.
Now, this financial audit is just the regular audit that most municipalities undertake on a per annum basis. But as the member opposite would probably understand, these are very unusual circumstances in the City of Dawson. We have to take these things into consideration. I am anticipating that this will be complete sometime at the end of June or mid-July. If that takes place, it will take us a couple of weeks to do an assessment of where we are and what the long-term plan is and, once we’re in that position, we’ll probably hold a public meeting in Dawson to explain the situation to them. Once we have some feedback from that, the trustee and I will probably agree to a date when an election will take place. I anticipate it will take place in the fall. A specific date I cannot give the member opposite, because I do not have the specific date when the financial statement will be completed for the City of Dawson.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate the Member for Mount Lorne offering me an opportunity to just put a few questions on the record in this department for the minister.
With regard to the sewage treatment plant in Carmacks and a request for qualifications that’s out right now, there has been a substantial amount of money spent on the Carmacks sewage treatment plan to date. It has been on the books; there have been plans, there has been work done. Could I ask the minister to send over — by letter, over the summer months — a brief history of the Carmacks sewage treatment plant and the expenditures to date, say from 1996 to the current? Could the minister indicate — this is a request for qualifications, then we have to go to a request for proposals, then a tender, and what the time frame on all those is?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We’ll review the RFQ proposals with the municipality. We’ll have to discuss all the options available through these proposals when they’re reviewed. They’ll have to make a decision, for example, on O&M costs, delays, which one provides a time span, and which one they can afford on the O&M side. We anticipate that will take a few months to get underway but, in the end, we’re working closely with the municipality on this particular issue because ultimately they will be the ones responsible for operating the facility.
Ms. Duncan: The minister didn’t answer the question. We all understand quite thoroughly that it’s the Government of Yukon that pays for these sewage treatment plants in cooperation with the municipality, which then bears the future O&M costs. Throughout the municipalities in the Yukon, where there are sewage and water treatment plants, there are significant expenditures by the Government of Yukon over a series of years, and we keep spending money and spending money and citizens have the right to ask, “Where’s the product? Where is the sewage treatment plant?” It’s not just Dawson City.
The Carmacks sewage treatment plant has been on the books for a very long time. Since the time I’ve been in this Legislature, almost a decade, we’ve been talking about it, and booking money and spending money on the Carmacks sewage treatment plant. Now an RFQ has been issued. Even though we’ve spent a significant amount of money already, we now have requests for qualifications issued, and the minister can’t stand in the House and offer any time frames or a commitment to get back to me on the history of these expenditures. That was the answer I was looking for.
We do have a very short period of time. I would like that information, if it’s at all possible, over the summer months. I’m sure it’s readily available at the hands of the officials.
The Argus payment has been noted in the last Auditor General’s report: a question as to why the money had not been collected. What is the current status of the Argus outstanding loan?
Hon. Mr. Hart: On the Argus issue, that is currently under arbitration and we are in the process currently.
Ms. Duncan: Is there a date for conclusion of the arbitration?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I believe it’s the end of June.
Ms. Duncan: Thank you. I will correspond with the minister over the summer months about that then.
The Carcross footbridge is a very significant part of the community and is in a terrible state of disrepair. The community has sent out a cry of alarm to the Yukon government about this particular footbridge. It has to be dismantled. However, the community, quite rightly, wants to see something in place. My understanding now is that, fortunately or unfortunately, because it’s a navigable water, it’s going to require some two years in the permitting process in order to have a new bridge constructed.
Perhaps the minister could share with us what the Government of Yukon is going to do to assist the people in Carcross, in the community, to ensure that there is a safe bridge in operation and that we’re making best efforts to ensure that a new bridge is constructed to safety standards.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I did go through this particular question with the previous member fairly thoroughly, but I will address the issue again.
We are looking at addressing the issue of safety directly. Highways and Public Works engineers have reviewed the bridge and they have advised us that we have to take action. We are in the process of doing that. We are in the process of decommissioning it so that nobody can go there.
As far as dismantling the bridge in the water itself, we have to obtain the appropriate permits to dismantle that particular portion. The member opposite is probably quite correct — for us to rebuild the bridge may take as long as two years, and it may take five years, given our experience with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
But the big item here is that we are looking at the safety of the citizens and we’re acting on that particular issue. Secondly, we still have to determine, with the community and the First Nation, that the rebuilding of the bridge is a priority item. If it is, we will follow through with that process.
If it forms part of the waterfront development, we’ll carry on through that process also, but we are going to do that. We’re in the process of consulting with the community. We anticipate that to be done by the end of June and we’ll hopefully determine if that bridge is a priority for taking place. If it is, we’ll follow through and go through the process. We’ll obtain the necessary permits to have it rebuilt and we’ll follow through.
Ms. Duncan: I do apologize to the minister. I hadn’t been aware of his answer to the previous member’s question and I am quite concerned about that particular bridge and the community.
During the community reports at the recent Association of Yukon Communities meeting, Tagish indicated an interest in becoming incorporated, to some degree, either as a local improvement district — which isn’t the right terminology now — or a hamlet or, in some way, becoming a community with a clear status with the Government of Yukon. How does the community go about doing that with the minister? How do they register?
The minister wasn’t present at the time that community report was delivered. I’m sure he’ll get a copy of it, and it was on their list of wants. I’m wondering how the minister intends to address that desire of the community.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I did receive that request from the representative of Tagish and am fully aware of her request.
I will also indicate to the member opposite that we have received requests from Carcross for a similar process. There are a few situations under the Municipal Act where people can deal with that process, and the association and/or community need only make an application to our department. We will sit down with that community and start dealing with it and going through the processes necessary for them to become something other than an LAC.
Ms. Duncan: LAC — if the minister could just state for the record what that is. It’s the acronym for those who are not elected municipal officials. If the minister could just state for the record at what point could a community then receive funding, such as other communities already do? Do they have to wait a budget cycle is my question, or could they possibly appear in the supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I would state to the member opposite that there would be no way that any community could be ready to go through that process in time for the next supplementary budget. I anticipate that it would take some time to involve the entire community, because first of all you’d have to identify where it’s going to be, what the boundaries would be. All of that situation would take time. We’d also have to get out and do a full consultation with that particular area. As the member knows, Tagish is spread out all over the place. I do not foresee something being in the immediate future; however, I do foresee that if they would ever come and visit with our department, we could set out guidelines on how we could go about that process and engage the community in that event. Then we’d have to come back. Yes, there would have to be an allocation if we were going to go into that process, but there are all sorts of regulations that would have to be put in place before they could achieve that particular process.
I have a matter of urgency, and I would request a five-minute recess if possible.
Chair: Mr. Hart has requested a five-minute recess. Is that agreeable?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Okay, we’ll take a five-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. We will continue with general debate on Vote 51, Department of Community Services.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I thank the member opposite for indulging me with that brief recess. I will now consider further questions.
Ms. Duncan: In light of the time frame, and given that there are some other areas to clear, I will forward any other questions to the minister via correspondence over the summer.
I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to clear all lines in Vote 51, operations and maintenance and capital expenditures, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried, as required.
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried
Chair: Before I put the motion to the floor, is there any further general debate?
Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to clear all lines in Vote 51, operations and maintenance and capital expenditures, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried, as required.
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I believe that there is unanimous consent.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operations and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Community Services in the amount $50,169,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Community Services in the amount of $53,937,000 agreed to
Department of Community Services agreed to
Chair: That concludes Vote 51, Department of Community Services. We will now proceed to Yukon Development Corporation.
Yukon Development Corporation
Hon. Mr. Lang: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for the opportunity to introduce the Crown corporation, Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation.
As a bit of an overview of the last two and a half years, as you know, when this government took office two and a half years ago, the Mayo-Dawson line was incomplete. The contractors had issues; the challenges of rights-of-way and all other things that pertain to the development of the Mayo-Dawson line had some issues. At that point, we worked with the existing board and chair. I decided with the board that we needed a full-time position and some expertise to walk us through the challenges we found on the Mayo-Dawson line.
The concept of the Mayo-Dawson line was started by, not the previous government but the previous NDP government. Of course it was put into play by the last government, the Liberal government.
The issue that draws us here with the Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation was the issue about the economic feasibility of the Mayo-Dawson line. Of course, we can all, as managers — hindsight is 20/20 vision and I don’t think anybody in the Yukon would hold that process that we built the Mayo-Dawson line up for any kind of a way that a power line or any kind of contract should be proceeded on. Again we have to look forward; we can’t look back.
The corporation that was hired to do the Mayo-Dawson line probably knew in hindsight more about corporate law than they did about building a power line. Those are issues that we of course, as managers of this Crown corporation overseeing the corporation, had to address. We did that by hiring a full-time chair, and we put him to work to resolve the Mayo-Dawson line.
As we all know in the House, the economics had grown from a potential $17 million to $26 million to $30 million, and now we’re waiting for — again we’re working with the contractor to resolve the issues that are still outstanding between the contractor and the corporation.
There is the issue of discrepancies between what the corporation says is owed to them, and, of course, that the contractor has some issues with the perception of what the corporation owes the contractor. Now, the contractor — there is a mechanism in there for arbitration. Of course, we are trying to move that forward. We’d like to resolve these issues. We’d like to get this corporation into a position of knowing exactly what the final cost of the Mayo-Dawson line will be.
With the price of diesel and all these other costs that have been escalating in the last year and a half, in the long run and with good management, the Mayo-Dawson line will serve the purpose that it was designed for. The economics will fall into place over a period of time. The board has been working with the Yukon Utilities Board, presenting the corporation with some requests on how we can address this issue of the economics of the Mayo-Dawson line.
Again, in hindsight, we should have worked with the Utilities Board and brought the proposal forward, had the Utilities Board give it a sober second thought and gone forward with the construction. As the minister and as a Yukoner, I think I would recommend in the future that these contracts have some kind of sober second thought so that, at the end of the day, there is an opportunity for that kind of overview of any projects of this size.
At the end of the day, the taxpayers — the shareholders in the Energy Corporation — would get the kind of overview that is needed in any project of this size. Certainly, I look forward to seeing what the board brings back to me and, of course, our colleagues in trying to address how the Utilities Board comes into this equation and how it resolves the fact that it is a very important thing for the taxpayers to have that Utilities Board out there — the Yukon Utilities Board — to address these kinds of issues.
In hindsight, looking back on the project, we have certainly learned a lot. I hope the corporation has also learned a lot because it’s important that any kind of proposal that comes forward again be handled in a different fashion.
On the issue of how best to address any other extensions, the need for power grows in the Yukon. We have excess hydro power at the moment. How do we address the economic development that’s going on between Carmacks and Pelly and, of course, Stewart Crossing?
In a perfect world, it would be nice to see our grids tied in together so you could move power from Whitehorse to Mayo, and vice versa, and maximize our hydro power, but those are all things we can look forward to in the future. Hopefully, we have learned from what we did on the Mayo-Dawson line and don’t repeat that kind of process.
We have certainly been working with the board of directors of the corporation in making sure they all understand the responsibility a director has in a corporation. I think that has been lacking in the past. I’m not just talking about the Energy Corporation; I’m talking about all our boards of directors actually having a workshop and actually investing in the boards of directors so they understand, first of all, what their responsibilities are, as well as the job they have to perform. They are performing a job that represents the shareholders, which happen to be Yukoners.
At the end of the day, the corporation will always be a work-in-progress. Any government that is in the Yukon with the Energy Corporation will be looking at expanding lines, tying in grids, adding grids, looking at how to address the power shortage in the future, what the best bang for the buck for the shareholder is, how we balance economic development with the cost of energy, how we become competitive in the energy business, per se, with industry to make sure we attract industry into the territory.
The other issue was, two and a half years ago, when we worked with the Mayo-Dawson line — it became apparent that the Energy Solutions Centre didn’t fit into the Energy Corporation.
There were a lot of issues. The Auditor General audited the Energy Solutions Centre and they brought up some issues that I, as the minister, was not aware of. At that point, we had to address where we could put the Energy Solutions Centre to maximize its profile out in the community and do the job that it was assigned to do. We’ve taken that. We are in the process of taking it and putting it into Energy, Mines and Resources. With putting it into Energy, Mines and Resources, it takes the responsibility from the Energy Corporation in an overview of the Energy Solutions Centre and it also puts the Energy Solutions Centre into the government and, of course, there are checks and balances in the government to make sure that the Energy Solutions Centre performs its duty the way it’s set out and that we maximize the benefits to the Yukon in operating the Energy Solutions Centre.
Now that transfer is taking place. I didn’t realize, as the minister, that it’s a lengthy process. It takes a period of time because it is a corporation and we’re working very diligently so, at the end of the day, it will fit into Energy, Mines and Resources again, put out the product, and do the work that it is supposed to be doing. Of course, we do get support from the federal government and we do have obligations within that federal government budget that addresses storefront situations, an overview of how the Energy Solutions Centre can benefit all of us and the education and the things, so I’m very positive that the Energy Solutions Centre will maintain its profile in the community and, at the end of the day, will add bonuses to the Energy, Mines and Resources department.
Of course, these are all issues that we’ve addressed over the last two and a half years. I’d like to compliment the board of directors, the chair, the president — all the different individuals who work at the corporation to address all of these issues. At the end of the day, they also had to run an energy corporation, and those are responsibilities that are quite large.
We have issues on the Mayo-Dawson line, on access to the power line, and there are issues about the quality of the power. All of those issues have to be managed so, at the end of the day, we can get power to Dawson in a businesslike way and so Dawson benefits from it.
All the issues that were out there and that should have been resolved before we got into the contract we had with the corporation that was building the project — we have to, at the end of the day, address these at the back, which, again, complicates any manoeuvre where you’re trying to crisis manage a situation that should have been managed up front.
Again, I compliment all the staff at the Energy Corporation for the work they’ve done and the time that has been put into that. It has been a massive project. I think it has been a huge education for the board of directors. I’d like to thank the individuals who came up and worked with the board of directors on the responsibilities of being a director and on the obligations and liability of directors. These are all issues that I think were lacking over the last four or five years, in that the board of directors were taking direction instead of giving direction.
At the end of the day, I think it would be nice to see our power corporation with a very strong board of directors participating in the management of the corporation instead of being directed or managed themselves. Again, I’d like to thank the president and chairman for bringing that kind of knowledge into the corporation. We want to look at the board of directors as a part of the management team, and I think they’re there. They’ve had a massive education thing here in trying to resolve all these issues.
Again, we also have to resolve all these issues and also resolve the issue of the contractor and the power and, as well, manage a day-to-day operation that is a very large operation for this small jurisdiction. It’s not B.C. Hydro by any means, but it is a fairly big operation for us in this small jurisdiction and is also a very important part of the economic fabric of this community. I think it’s important that we keep it as a Crown corporation, manage it and work with it so, at the end of the day, it is another tool for the success of the Yukon.
At the end of the day, we will all benefit if we ensure that the Crown corporation is on solid ground financially and on solid ground on management. The board of directors has been brought forward on those issues. It’s a good cross-section of very capable Yukoners. It’s going to be managed by the board of directors, which will work with the team they hire to do the job. I think that once we get the issues of the Mayo-Dawson line behind us, we can work with the Energy Solutions Centre and bring it back to where it fits. Then we can move forward and manage the corporation in a very productive way.
Mr. McRobb: I would like to thank the minister for that lengthy speech, but unfortunately there is not much in it in terms of content or useful information. The minister knows full well that our time in this sitting is winding down. There is less than 45 minutes left.
Again, the Yukon Party is playing rag the puck. Of course the advantage is that it doesn’t leave the opposition any time to ask questions. There are still two more corporations — the Liquor Corporation and the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Of course, the Yukon Party doesn’t want to see housing come up this afternoon, and they don’t want to be asked any questions about the big so-called affordable housing initiative. So that’s why we have the Energy, Mines and Resources minister stand up and talk away for about 20 minutes. Well, a fine state of democracy we’re in under this Yukon Party government.
Now, I do have a few questions. I have one question; it’s a why, when and what question. It pertains to a $94,000 contract given out to North of 60 Expediting on the Mayo-Dawson transmission line. That involves the current Speaker of the Assembly. Can the minister tell us why the contract was let, when it was let and what it produced?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Deputy Chair, to be honest with you, I oversee the corporation as the minister responsible for the corporation. Of course, the day-to-day operations of the corporation are done by the corporation, so I would have to take his question under advisement.
Mr. McRobb: That’s a good one. Well, I would expect the minister to respond in writing in full. Would he just nod his head to that effect, Mr. Chair? I see him nodding his head, so we’ll move on.
I want to ask him about the governance relationship between YTG and Yukon Development Corporation. This exercise now has dragged on and on and on. We’ve seen no product. We’ve seen no timelines. There is no draft and no indication of when it is going to be finalized. It is a complete nebulous process under this minister. Can he now enlighten us as to what is going on?
Hon. Mr. Lang: To remind the member opposite, that’s why I did my 20 minutes or my 15-minute preamble on the subject. The governance is very important to this government. We are working on it, but we’ve had other issues that have been on the burner here for the last two and a half years. I think that we have to maximize the individuals we have in the corporation and solve some of the issues before we create other issues. Governance is one of the things we’ve committed to do and, as we move ahead with the corporation, we will be looking at governance. At the moment, we’re running an energy corporation. We’re resolving issues that were created not by ourselves but by other governments, and as this thing shrinks, we’re going to look at the governance — one thing at a time.
Mr. McRobb: That’s completely ridiculous. It sounds like this minister is trying to cook a five-course meal for 20 people on a single-burner Coleman stove. It’s no wonder things never get moved to the front burner. Now can he give us some indication of when we might expect product on this governance relationship?
Hon. Mr. Lang: To the member opposite, I guess I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting the Mayo-Dawson line behind us and the Yukon Energy Solutions Centre behind us before we open other issues. Obviously, the member opposite doesn’t understand the fabric or the workday that goes on in an energy corporation. I’m sure that if he were there and talked with the board of directors, they could inform him. Their plate has been very full for the last 12 months.
As far as the member opposite making comments about who is working or who is doing whatever, as minister responsible overseeing the Crown corporation, I work very positively with the corporation to maximize the workload that those individuals are under. Again, I’d like to thank the corporation and all the individuals. They have been through a very trying time. At the end of the day, we’re getting there.
Governance is one of the issues we’re looking at, and hopefully we can address it before the end of this term.
Mr. McRobb: Well, obviously this minister is not a multi-tasker. If he were a juggler, he’d only have one ball in the air. That’s it.
This is completely unreasonable. If we let this one slide, it would set a bad precedent in this House for complete lack of accountability. This government indicated it was working on the governance relationship. It’s had a free ride so far, Mr. Chair. It has been able to skate away from this one, free and clean. That’s not right, because I don’t believe there is a governance relationship being worked on. There has been no product tabled. All it is is political interference by this minister.
Now, I want to ask him: what about the cost overruns on the Mayo-Dawson transmission line? If the Yukon Utilities Board rules that those overruns must be paid by the Yukon Development Corporation, what does the minister envision will happen to the retained earnings in that corporation?
Hon. Mr. Lang: To remind the member opposite, I oversee the corporation. I don’t manage the corporation, nor do I try to manage the corporation. So I’d like to clarify that point right out of the chute here.
As far as second-guessing what the Yukon Utilities Board is going to do — that again is a decision they have to make. At that point — I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I am going to move forward with that decision and work with the corporation to see how we can address it. I remind the member opposite again that I oversee the corporation for the taxpayers of the Yukon for this government. It has a board of directors and it has independence from the government, which minimizes the political interference he talks about.
Again I’d like to correct the member opposite: there has been no political interference in the power corporation since this minister has been overseeing it.
Mr. McRobb: Mr. Chair, is it any wonder this is also the minister responsible for agriculture, who deals in fertilizer, after a statement like that?
Mr. Chair, let’s get serious. These cost overruns are going to have a significant impact on the Yukon Development Corporation, but there is enough money there to cover them all. This minister had the choice of allocating those funds from the get-go, but instead he chose to burden the public process with this matter, which has consumed the last Utilities Board hearing and has cost all ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of time and trouble as a result.
The end result is probably going to be that anyway. He had the option to do the right thing and assign that money, but instead he has caused a lot of people a lot of work and grief over the past half a year.
Here’s another problem: on the last day of the fall sitting, he comes in and tables the 2005 revenue application. The audits of the Mayo-Dawson transmission line came later, but in the application there were slush funds that essentially delay a rate increase for a period of — it could be about two years.
So what this is, the minister has set up a booby trap for the next government. Once those slush funds get drained, there is going to be a rate impact, and the slush funds are just temporarily paying for that rate impact. But do the consumers and the public understand that? No. This minister has set up the next government to have to deal with a rate impact because he didn’t do the right thing. Now, if he doesn’t get in and get involved and just oversees the corporation, why did he approve this application to go to the Utilities Board?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again, I guess we have to agree to disagree. I find it amazing that the member opposite lacks the knowledge — I would have to question the knowledge — on power issues.
I think what he has to do is go back and address what the Yukon Utilities Board is set up to do.
As far as slush funds are concerned, I hope that the Yukon people and the member opposite understand that there is no such thing as a slush fund in the corporation. It is a complete exaggeration that doesn’t bode well for the shareholders.
I remind the member opposite that all Yukoners own the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation. We are working very actively at resolving the issues. As far as the consumers are concerned, we certainly managed the question of the subsidy. We have managed it in conjunction with the Yukon Energy Corporation and the board of directors. We give breaks where we can.
I cannot second-guess what the Yukon Utilities Board decisions are going to be. I am not going to lose any sleep over those decisions because, at the end of the day, I’m not going to waste time worrying about it. I am going to do the right thing when the decision comes down and work with the board of directors to maximize the benefits to the taxpayers.
When we took over, two and one-half years ago, we did not create the mess that was the Mayo-Dawson line. I want to make that very clear to the member opposite. We had the challenge to fix it. We’ve done that. We put it in front of the Yukon Utilities Board to address the issue. That’s where it should have been in the first place. The Yukon Utilities Board should have been involved in this thing long before the end of the process.
Ms. Duncan: I would just like to have the minister state for the record a couple of points, if he would be so kind. First of all, it was very clearly and very publicly stated by the president at that time that any cost overruns on the Mayo-Dawson transmission line would not be charged to ratepayers but would be covered by the Yukon Development Corporation.
When I asked —
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Ms. Duncan: That’s quite all right, Mr. Chair.
When I asked the minister who had the responsibility to ensure that those public comments were on the record before the Yukon Utilities Board, the minister indicated we should wait until this debate to find out. The statements are clear; they’re on the record. They must and they should have been put before the Utilities Board. It was a very clear commitment.
Before the minister continues on his train of thought that the Yukon Utilities Board could have and should have been involved in the Mayo-Dawson transmission line, I would remind the member opposite that the chair of the Yukon Utilities Board was made aware by the president of the line and that the cost of a hearing into a line that had been through several board members, several ministers and several governments was approximately $700,000 — so a $700,000 bill versus trusting the views of Yukoners, a board of directors. So I would just remind him, before he gets too carried away with that line of thought, that all the information needs to be available as well.
Hon. Mr. Lang: To answer the question for the member opposite, I would like to remind the member opposite under whose watch the Mayo-Dawson line was constructed. The member opposite was responsible for the Energy Corporation, Economic Development, when the decision was made. I’m not prepared to take the blame for the Mayo-Dawson line or the management skills of the individuals who did the Mayo-Dawson line.
Again, I remind the member opposite that contractors weren’t being paid. At the end of the day, the Mayo-Dawson line was 85 percent complete, and we took over the government, accepted the challenge of government and, with that challenge, we finished the Mayo-Dawson line. The member opposite created the challenge; we addressed the challenge. The Mayo-Dawson line is up and running today, with a few issues that the team at Yukon Energy Corporation is solving.
So, as far as the member opposite stick-handling the decision-making process out of her corner, that isn’t going to work because, at the end of the day, her government — the member opposite was part of a government that created the challenge that we had to fix when we became government.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister seems quite intent on ending this particular session on a very, very sour note — which he finds humorous. I don’t. I find the minister suggesting that anyone didn’t do their job when they occupied any office in this government — and the particular spin the minister seems intent upon putting on this Mayo-Dawson transmission line — is truly unfortunate.
The minister is not only referring to me in disparaging terms, but he’s also referring to a duly appointed board that includes colleagues and friends of his. It includes Yukoners, it includes public servants and it includes the private sector. The words in Hansard stay around for a very, very long time. At the end of the day, the president of the Yukon Development Corporation has also stood here on the public record and noted the net economic benefit of the Mayo-Dawson transmission line.
The construction of the Mayo-Dawson transmission line was signed off when I was the minister — absolutely. It was a decision made by caucus. It was a decision made on the best advice, a decision that there was an awareness by the Yukon Utilities Board. The president of the day and the chair of the board made a public commitment that, should there be any cost overruns, they would not be charged back to ratepayers but would be paid by funds within the corporation. What I asked the minister who has responsibility for this now was: at what point was the Yukon Utilities Board made aware of that public commitment?
In previous debate, he told me to bring it up in the Yukon Development Corporation debate, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. In all fairness, I would respectfully request an answer from the minister, without the disparaging remarks about anybody who has either worked for the Government of Yukon, the Yukon Development Corporation or been a public servant or private contractor or member of this Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I accept that scolding from the member opposite. It humbles me to think of the issue of the Mayo-Dawson line, and the issue is obviously very sensitive to the member opposite. I agree. I agree that it is a sensitive issue. I agree — and I think everybody in the House can agree — that the argument the member opposite has stated publicly — that the Mayo-Dawson line was a good deal at any price.
Another argument is that either the shareholders pay for it out of their front pocket or their back pocket. I remind the member opposite that it is owned by all Yukoners and it is an energy corporation that benefits all Yukoners.
As far as the member opposite saying that, at the end of the day, that contract, or the price from Mayo to Dawson at any price, is a good deal — I beg to differ with the member opposite. I understand the issue of the minister of the day approving the Mayo-Dawson line, and the member opposite accepted that responsibility, accepted the responsibility of the Mayo-Dawson line. Now, at the end of the day was it a good deal for the ratepayers of the Yukon? Was it a good deal that was made for the ratepayers or the shareholders of the Energy Corporation? I think probably, if you were to look at the figures, it was not a good deal, but again they were decisions made by the government and we live with those decisions. We live with those decisions.
Was the project well managed? I guess at the end of the day, when we’re done with the contractor and all these other issues, we’ll decide whether it was a good deal for the ratepayers at any price. Is that what we’re going to say to the ratepayers? It went from $17 million to $23 million to $36 million, and thank God that the oil price has gone up so it corrects the error. Can you imagine if they actually lived with the financial box that the contract was supposed to cost?
Wouldn’t that be a novel idea? In other words, the contract was let. We had a 10-percent overrun in the end. Mr. Chair, a good deal at any price is an amazing attitude from the member opposite. Let’s all accept our responsibilities in this House. She was the minister of the day who signed off on the Mayo-Dawson line. There is no way that she can turn her back on that decision.
I am not questioning the advice the member opposite got. Why would I question that? In the end, I guess it wasn’t very good advice.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Lang: I would like to correct the member opposite. I was not on any board that made a decision on the Mayo-Dawson line.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Lang: No, I was never there.
So, putting that behind us, the deal was that the government of the day made a decision. We were elected to office. I was asked to oversee the corporation. At that point, we had some issues. The issue was that the Mayo-Dawson line was not going according to Hoyle. It was not finished. Contractors hadn’t been paid. The main contractor was not on-site at that point, so we had a few challenges.
Again, I am not pointing fingers at the Yukon Energy Corporation. I am not taking the board to task. What I’m saying is that the argument that the Mayo-Dawson line at any price was acceptable to the ratepayers or the shareholders of Yukon Energy Corporation is a weak argument at best. We have a corporation now that has some issues in front of the Yukon Utilities Board. I want to remind the members opposite that the challenges are being met on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. We are going to get behind the Mayo-Dawson line and go forward with managing the energy of the Yukon, but we have to get it behind us before we can go forward.
Ms. Duncan: Well, I accept once again being yelled at by the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. Suggesting that I said that the Mayo-Dawson transmission line is a good deal at any price — that’s not what I said. That is not what I said. The minister said that. I didn’t say that.
The Mayo-Dawson transmission line — I have no difficulty in stating that, yes, I signed that off, no difficulty at all. I signed off on approval. The letter is a matter of archives. So is the governance situation at the time. And I would remind the minister that perhaps he’d like to think back to less than half an hour ago, when he went on at great length in response to a question from the Member for Kluane, “Well, no, that’s not my responsibility as minister to know about that particular contract. My responsibility is to do this.”
I would quite respectfully like to have the information that has been provided to the minister on governance to date. I recognize that it is a particularly difficult issue and tough to work on. If there has been anything provided to the minister to date, as I understand there has been, it’s in the lineup of Cabinet submissions. If it is subject to Cabinet confidentiality, so be it. If the minister could just indicate where they are in the process of working on governance, if there are any vacancies on the Yukon Development Corporation Board or Yukon Energy Corporation Board at the time, and if perhaps the minister could enlighten the Legislature as to whether or not the information and commitment of the previous — if the minister wishes, I’ll go to the Yukon Utilities Board hearings and have a look myself.
He must have the information at his side as to whether or not the commitment by the chair and the president regarding the cost overruns — if the Yukon Utilities Board was made aware of that in testimony.
Those are three simple questions: were they made aware of that information, where are we on governance, and are there any current vacancies in the Yukon Development Corporation Board? If he is feeling particularly generous, perhaps he might also be willing to indicate at what point during the fall session we might be able to ask questions of Yukon Development Corporation ourselves.
Hon. Mr. Lang: In answering the questions of the member opposite, there is a possibility of 10 directors. There are nine at the moment, so that reflects one vacancy. As far as the governance is concerned, we are working on that. That’s in the process. That should come before Cabinet, so of course that’s the process that we go through. We’re very aware of the governance and how we can correct some of the issues that happened in the past.
Again, the member opposite inferred from my comments that, as the minister responsible, I don’t manage the corporation. That is another way that the member opposite, when the government was in place — I would have thought that, with a $27-million contract out there, I wouldn’t have signed it off and then not paid any attention to it. I think probably that’s another weak argument in defence of the decision to build the Mayo-Dawson line and, of course, the management of that Mayo-Dawson line.
Let’s get that behind us. Let’s move forward. It’s not going to benefit anybody in this House to banter back and forth on whose fault it is. I understand that it’s a very delicate subject for the member opposite, understanding the management skills that were shown on the project and, obviously by her comments, she didn’t take an interest in it because she didn’t manage the Energy Corporation on a daily basis, so I accept that answer. We have to move forward with the Energy Corporation and make it a productive part of the Yukon, and this government will do that.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Chair, what do we have here? We have a minister who just pointed the finger at the former Premier and chastised her so-called bad management of this project. Yet, 10 minutes before, this same minister stood up and tried to exonerate himself from any management of anything, saying that he only oversees the corporation, that it’s up to the board and the employees to do all the work. Well, is that a double standard or what? What comes to mind is the “h—” word, but we’re not allowed to use the “h—” word in here because it’s unparliamentary.
I’m going to refer you to last Friday’s Yukon News, in particular the “Legislative Notebook”. It used the “h—” word. We all know what it is. What this minister just did is another clear example of how this government really exemplifies that “h—” word all the time.
Now, the minister ought to own up to his own responsibilities. Either he oversees the corporations and doesn’t interfere politically, or he does get involved in the workings of the corporations and does interfere. Which one is it? But, you know, Mr. Chair, we don’t know because this government hasn’t tabled its governance relationship yet. We don’t know what the rules are from this minister because everything pertains to the governance relationship. Has the minister even given us an indication of what’s in the governance relationship?
Well, I can answer that. The answer is no. He has not indicated at all what the governance relationship is even about. So, what the minister is doing is asking the Legislative Assembly to give him a blank cheque when it comes to being cleared of any association with the operations of the corporations when it comes to questionable practices. Yet, on the other hand, when it comes to taking credit, he expects to take all the credit because it was his doing.
I see the Premier has sent over some coin.
I would encourage him. Obviously the $780 million wasn’t enough to get rid of his urge to spend money. If he wants to send some over, that’s fine. This might be money that should go to his sidekick, the organ grinder.
Anyway, not to be waylaid from these important issues — and we do have a lot of important issues in Yukon Development Corporation. I just want to go to the bigger picture for just a moment.
Under this Yukon Party government, the opposition has basically been cheated out of an appearance from the heads of the corporations during a legislative sitting. There have been two and one-half years. The heads of the corporations have appeared twice, so it will be another half a year before they appear again. We won’t get one appearance a year, as the House rules state. It all boils down to the fact that this government didn’t have a fall sitting in 2002, and then it didn’t honour the rules by having the corporation heads appear in the spring sitting of 2003.
Again, the ministers had a free skate on this whole area of accountability with respect to the Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation. Had the minister somehow been able to be held to a greater standard — as every other government has been — maybe we could have gotten to the bottom of some of these issues and it would have prevented the minister from standing up and pointing the finger. Any time there’s a problem, he stands up and points a finger at previous governments, whether it’s the Mayo-Dawson line or anything else. We have heard it time and time again.
If the minister thinks he’s going to get an opportunity to talk this afternoon, he is obviously a poor mathematician. There is no point in me sitting down and then him getting up and repeating his speech from earlier on. I may as well just stand here until 5:00 p.m. — to heck with it.
There are lots of things to talk about. There’s no shortage of issues to talk about. I see some of the minister’s colleagues congratulating me with that, and understandably they’d rather listen to me than their own colleague from Porter Creek Centre, and I can appreciate that.
Now let’s go back to the bigger picture. If there was an opportunity to ask some questions, I would love to ask questions on power supply. Let’s take that one.
The minister in Question Period has said that there’s an excess of hydro on the system, we don’t need a coal plant, and he brushes off questions around a coal plant. Yes, we have excess hydro in the summer. Check previous issues of Hansard. Check the Yukon Development Corporation appearance on December 13. That was discussed at length. As a matter of fact, I pointed out that if somehow that excess power could be sold in the summer, there would be an extra $10 million to the benefit of ratepayers, and that would equate to something like a 25-percent rate decrease if ever we can attain that. That’s quite a significant benefit. However, the president, who today is sitting beside the minister, was on the radio about two months ago indicating the load demand on the WAF grid — that’s the Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro grid — has increased significantly and the corporation must examine new supply options. I see the president nodding his head in agreement. It seems that he and I are on the same level of understanding, but the minister is out counting potatoes somewhere.
Mr. Chair, it’s true. If the load keeps increasing, we must look at additional supply; otherwise, it will revert to firing up the old diesels, and with the high cost of fuel, if that becomes a significant amount, that’s going to result in rate increases.
So because the low growth appears to be sustainable and it’s not driven by a volatile mine that could close at any time — there is a major difference between the two — then obviously some small supply growth is necessary and is probably a financially smart thing to do.
Now, bring that back to what the minister said about having excess on the system now. Well, Mr. Chair, it doesn’t add up. We have an excess on the system in the summertime now, but not the wintertime. And that’s only now. So the minister is looking at a coal-fired plant at the Division Mountain site.
Now, today I asked him about his back-to-the-future-with-coal approach, and he assumed it was a coal-fired generation plant. Well, it wasn’t necessarily that. It was coal mining — coal mining, because we know that, in the extraction of coal, there is carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere in the same quantity as if the coal was burned. So even if the coal is mined and exported out on some railroad to overseas, my question today was how does the minister reconcile that with the obligations under the Kyoto Accord? Of course, we didn’t get an answer from this minister, but that’s a good question.
So there is an unanswered question there. But let’s go back to the coal generating plant. Mr. Chair, it seems once every couple of years we have to put this on record. I’m not sure if I’ve put it on record to this minister, so I’m going to do it right now. If this government enters into any kind of a contract for a coal plant on this system — let’s say 75 megawatts, whatever — this is bound to cost in the neighbourhood of $200 million or so.
What will happen is that, if that is given as a take-or-pay contract to a non-utility generator or if it’s built by the Yukon Energy Corporation or partially by the Yukon Development Corporation, ratepayers are put at a lot of risk if that generating plant is built for a mine that is here today and gone tomorrow. That’s what I’m afraid of, and a lot of Yukoners are afraid that that’s where this minister is taking the territory.
The minister is acting in a vacuum without a policy. I’ve asked some questions in this sitting about his energy policy, and the minister has basically ignored those questions. Where is the energy policy? One day he stood up and said, “Well, I ought to know because I drafted the darn thing he’s operating under.” The next day, he says he didn’t have one.
So I’m familiar with the energy policy developed under the previous NDP government, but this minister says he’s changing it. Well, we would like to know what changes are being made and how the minister is involving the public. How is he doing that?
There is no public involvement. That’s the truth of the matter. He is acting unilaterally, and we all know where the true interests of the Yukon Party are, and it’s certainly in big-money companies and people they know. That’s where it’s at.
Unfortunately the Yukon Party is in a position, as it becomes more desperate and nears the end of its mandate, where it’s going to throw the dice with the future of the territory. It’s going to take one last throw of the dice for the future of the territory and it won’t care what the implications for the taxpayers or ratepayers are — it will be achieving its political goals.
Of course, we’ve covered those.
The members opposite should take a step backward and remember why they were voted in here, and recall the oath of office and how they swore to act in the public interest, and not just for a close group of friends or mining interests, but for the general public. They need to back off from this agenda. They should be consulting the public on these important matters. There are a lot of stakeholders out there, especially those familiar with the energy issues, who would really like to be consulted, but they are being ignored.
This government is likely to do anything as it gets more and more desperate as the fall of 2006 approaches — unless it gets so desperate it pulls the plug before then, which is always possible. There are a lot of issues here. I have identified a few that are very important for the territory. We’re not getting the complete picture.
What about the rate stabilization fund? We saw the minister drag his heels when it came to making an announcement on whether or not the fund would be renewed. We know from history that the Yukon Party is philosophically opposed to the rate stabilization fund and would like to get rid of it. That’s what happened in a previous rendition of a Yukon Party government: it tried to get rid of the previous rate relief fund. After a public outcry, they had to back off. It was getting too close to an election and that government of the day figured that it had a chance to get re-elected, so they backed off.
What I’m worried about is that this government will see the light of day and realize it doesn’t have a chance of being re-elected, it will throw caution to the wind and will cancel a lot of good programs that have been put in place by previous NDP governments.
That would be a shame because the rate stabilization fund was developed through sound and extensive public consultation.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. McRobb: The Member for Klondike is piping up again. Maybe he’d like to talk about the Mayo-Dawson line and some of the issues around that. Instead he should be paying back his loan, but I heard him vote against the bill I introduced today. Isn’t that a conflict of interest when the Member for Klondike votes against first reading on a bill for him to repay his loan? Maybe I’ll have to consult Mr. Jones.
Anyway — well, the member laughs but a lot of people don’t think it’s very funny. Again, the “h— word” comes to mind because that member is in a league of his own as those who read the newspaper on Friday would have read.
Chair: Order please. As the member knows, he cannot do indirectly what he can’t do directly. I’m referring to a word that he cannot use by some other form that he has already told the Assembly, and everyone understands what he really means. The member is crossing the line and conveying a message that is unparliamentary.
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Chair: Order please. Order please. Once we have order, we will continue with debate. Mr. McRobb, you have the floor.
Mr. McRobb: My oh my, we must be at the end of the sitting —
Termination of Committee proceedings as per Standing Order 76(1)
Chair: Order please. Order please. The time has reached 5:00 p.m. on this the 30th day of the 2005 spring sitting.
Standing Order 76(1) states: On the sitting day that the Assembly has reached the maximum number of sitting days allocated for that sitting pursuant to Standing Order 75, the Chair of Committee of the Whole, if the Assembly is in Committee of the Whole at the time, shall interrupt proceedings at 5:00 p.m. and, with respect to each government bill before Committee that the government House leader directs to be called, shall:
(a) put the question on any amendment then before the Committee;
(b) put the question, without debate or amendment, on a motion moved by a minister that the bill, including all clauses, schedules, title and preamble, be deemed to be read and carried;
(c) put the question on a motion moved by a minister that the bill be reported to the Assembly; and
(d) when all bills have been dealt with, recall the Speaker to the Chair to report on the proceedings of the Committee.
It is the duty of the Chair to now conduct the business of the Committee of the Whole in the manner directed by Standing Order 76(1). The Chair would now ask the government House leader to indicate whether Bill No. 15, the only bill now before the Committee of the Whole, should be called.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The government directs that Bill No. 15 be called at this time.
Chair: The Committee will now deal with Bill No. 15, First Appropriation Act, 2005–06. The Chair will now recognize Mr. Fentie as the sponsor of Bill No. 15, for the purposes of moving a motion pursuant to Standing Order 76(1)(b).
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that all clauses, schedules and the title of Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be deemed to be read and carried.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that all clauses, schedules and the title of Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be deemed to be read and carried. As no debate or amendment is permitted, I shall now put the question: are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that you report Bill No. 15 without amendment.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Fentie that Bill No. 15 be reported without amendment. As no debate or amendment is permitted, I shall now put the question: are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: I think the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion agreed to
Chair: As all government bills remaining in Committee of the Whole have now been decided upon, it is my duty to rise and report to the House.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, and has directed me to report it without amendment.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Speaker: Before proceeding further, the Chair wishes to draw the attention of the House to a matter that arose earlier today.
The Member for Kluane, under Introduction of Bills during the Daily Routine, moved a motion for introduction and first reading of a bill entitled Financial Recovery Act. This motion was put to the House by the Chair and was defeated on a voice vote.
Following the conclusion of the Daily Routine, the Chair had an opportunity to review the content of the bill brought to the House by the Member for Kluane. As the Member for Kluane is quite aware, the bill is completely out of order and should not have been brought before this House. The result is that the motion for first reading should not have been put to the House nor have come to a vote.
The Chair and the Table Officers have learned from this experience that, in the future, any bills brought to the House will have to be reviewed before a motion for introduction and first reading is allowed to be put to the House.
Further, the Chair must order, in respect to this matter, that the Votes and Proceedings of the Assembly show that the bill put before the House by the Member for Kluane was ruled out of order and that the Votes and Proceedings not record a motion for first reading ever having been allowed to be put.
Third Reading of Bills as per Standing Order 76(2)
Standing Order 76(2) states that: “On the sitting day that the Assembly has reached the maximum number of sitting days allocated for that Sitting pursuant to Standing Order 75, the Speaker of the Assembly, when recalled to the Chair after the House has been in the Committee of the Whole, shall:
(d) with respect to each Government Bill standing on the Order Paper for Third Reading and designated to be called by the Government House Leader,
(i) receive a motion for Third Reading and passage of the bill, and
(ii) put the question, without debate or amendment, on that motion.”
The Chair therefore would now ask the Government House leader whether Bill No. 15, the only bill now standing at third reading, should be called.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, the government directs that Bill No. 15 be called for third reading at this time.
Bill No. 15: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 15, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 15, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now read a third time and do pass. As no debate or amendment is permitted, I shall now put the question: are you agreed?
Some Hon. Member: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Disagree.
Mr. McRobb: Disagree.
Mr. Fairclough: Disagree.
Mr. Cardiff: Disagree.
Mrs. Peter: Disagree.
Ms. Duncan: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are nine yea, six nay.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 15 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 15 has passed this House.
We are now prepared to receive the Commissioner, in his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, to grant assent to certain bills which have passed this House.
Commissioner enters the Chamber, announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms
ASSENT TO BILLS
Commissioner: Please be seated.
Speaker: Mr. Commissioner, the Assembly has, at its present session, passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the Assembly, I respectfully request your assent.
Clerk: Dawson Municipal Governance Restoration Act; Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005; Third Appropriation Act, 2004-05; First Appropriation Act, 2005-06.
Commissioner: I hereby assent to the bills as enumerated by the Clerk.
I wish all of you a pleasant and restful summer.
Commissioner leaves the Chamber
Adjournment of the House
Speaker: As the House has reached the maximum number of days permitted for this spring sitting, as established pursuant to Standing Order 75(3), and the House has completed consideration of the designated legislation, it is the duty of the Chair to declare that this House now stands adjourned.
The House adjourned at 5:16 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled May 17, 2005:
Environment Act: Report on the Audit of the Yukon Government's Performance under the Environment Act (dated March 2005) (Fentie)
Conflict of Interest Commission, cost of providing opinion: email correspondence between the Hon. Jim Kenyon, MLA for Porter Creek North and David Phillip Jones, Q.C., Conflict of Interest Commissioner (Yukon) (Kenyon)