House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Motions For Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Motions For Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that other Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions For Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions For Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from April 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-39, an act to amend the Nunavut Act and the Constitution Act, 1867, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

April 22nd, 1998 / 3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When debate on this item was last interrupted, the hon. member for Prince Albert had the floor. He has 15 minutes remaining in his time for his remarks.

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will not take 15 minutes. My intervention will be brief.

It has been brought to my attention since I last spoke in this debate that we were being somewhat critical of the people of the Northwest Territories which is not so. If we are critical of anyone, we are critical of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, particularly the minister, for its handling of the entire Northwest Territories.

The territories suffer a 30% unemployment rate and high suicide. They have poor health, reduced life expectancy, not to mention other social problems. This has happened during the administration of the previous Tory and current Liberal governments. We feel that the previous government completely failed the people of the Northwest Territories in developing its economy and its society. This bill should be amended and passed.

We feel that the new government being established will have a far greater chance to develop a vision for its people, to implement it and to give its people hope. It has been written that without a vision people will perish. We want to see these people and their families move ahead and prosper economically and socially. We want the very best for these people which they have not been getting.

The legislation moves power downward toward the people who will be governed. That should mean that the people of the Northwest Territories will have more influence on their government. I am sure this will produce better government in the eastern Arctic. We support them in that endeavour.

We call for an elected senator and we make our support for this bill conditional upon that. We feel that better government includes people being able to pick their representatives in this place.

We question the government on its evasiveness and lack of preparedness in answering questions about cost. Early estimates of the cost of establishing Nunavut were in the range of $150 million. That did not happen. A later estimate made in October 1997 set the price in the order of $300 million which is double the cost. If they know why that is, they are not willing to say. So we do not know. We know it will cost more to increase the government because there will be another government in place in Nunavut. We would like to see a reduction in the size of DIAND to compensate for the increased cost of establishing and maintaining this new government.

We as the official opposition have a responsibility to the taxpayers of Canada to ask questions about this and to get direct answers from the government on these matters. We cannot simply stand by, clap our hands, say that is wonderful and whatever the cost, we approve of it 100%. We are not standing in the way of these people achieving their goal but we want to know what the cost will be and how it will be offset in reduced costs for DIAND. That is a major concern our party has with this legislation at this time.

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Western Arctic
Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew Secretary of State (Children and Youth)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-39, an act to amend the Nunavut Act and Constitution Act, 1867. This is a critical piece of legislation that is necessary as we move toward the creation of Nunavut on April 1, 1999, which is less than a year from now, to complete the whole process of the division of the Northwest Territories. As the member of parliament for the Western Arctic, I am in full support of this bill.

There is a coming of age in the Northwest Territories as there has never been before. The political destiny of the north has been decided. We are going to divide the Northwest Territories and create the new territory of Nunavut with all the tools of a democratic society. This will include a governance structure. This would not be possible without the approval of this bill. We need this bill.

This is an exciting time in the north. It is a time of much progression. The north is very political. If people from any other part of Canada or the world go to the north they will speak to some of the most knowledgeable and well travelled people. We live in a microcosm of all the things that affect people from other parts of our country and from abroad. Northerners travel the world. Northerners are very political. They are very knowledgeable about the politics of the day nationally, internationally and territorially.

We are rife with activity. We have many resource based activities that affect both of the new territories which will emerge.

We have three of the biggest diamond mining companies in the world right at the back door of those people who will be responsible for running their own activities. We have Aber Resources and Rio Tinto. We also have the Broken Hill Proprietary, BHP, Monopros and DeBeers.

We are also being bombarded continually with the attempts of many groups to explore for other resources such as oil and gas.

We have in our midst a very friendly invasion of tourists who are captivated not only by the environment of the north but by the various aspects and phenomena of our environment such as the aurora borealis. We have captivated Japanese tourists and other people from around the world who come to the north.

Given the opportunities and tools and armed with the legislation we have here we believe that people of the north will be able to take full advantage of that potential. That is not to mention the collective leadership and wisdom, the corporate knowledge, the linguistic and cultural strength of peoples from both territories which will be reflected in the kind of leadership that leads those people once we have made the commitment to pass this legislation. All the work that has already been undertaken, all of the preparation, all of the visionary strategies, the far-reaching planning and the training must not be ignored.

It can be said that if you want to do the right thing in creating a democracy the principles of democracy are not necessarily predicated on price or cost. Sometimes democracy is costly. We would not have ten provinces and two territories if we did not endure cost. If that were not the case, Newfoundland, Manitoba and Saskatchewan would not be provinces today.

If we talk about self-sustaining entities of governance, some of those provinces would not be provinces today. Why apply one set of rules to them and another set of rules to the territories?

Bill C-39 is about making democracy work. Without this bill Nunavut would not have a fully elected territorial leadership from its beginning days. This legislation provides for the election of a legislative assembly before the territory officially comes into existence. That is very important. Without that amendment to the Nunavut Act a commissioner without a mandate from the people of Nunavut would govern the new Nunavut government. We cannot return, however briefly, to the early days of the Northwest Territories when governance was done from afar, in absentia, when the Northwest Territories was run from the south without having those people resident to really experience and be part of what needed to be done at the time. We now have an opportunity.

The people have been assigned their duties and they must be empowered to carry them out. As legislators we can agree that locally elected representatives must govern Nunavut from day one. Elections in the north are very difficult. Having firsthand experience in campaigning in the last three elections in the north, I know how difficult it is and how much lead time is required before an election. The sheer distance, the remoteness, not to mention the severe inclement weather and environmental experiences can create problems during an election. These are some of the things that are to be considered.

The cost of an election is also something that is quite prohibitive.

This bill also addresses other important issues to ensure democracy. Bill C-39 proposes amendments to guarantee representation of both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories in both the House of Commons and in the Senate of Canada.

As my colleague, the hon. member for Nunavut, would be happy to confirm, all Nunavutmiut, all northerners and all Canadians have a basic right to be represented in both institutions of parliament. This bill is necessary to ensure that both the hon. member for Nunavut's constituents and my constituents have this basic right.

This bill ensures that both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will have their own representatives in both the Senate and the House of Commons, which is not unlike anywhere else in Canada.

This House and all Canadians listened with great interest to the debate of two days ago in this Chamber. Unfortunately the Leader of the Official Opposition was trying to use this legislation as a springboard to advance the Reform Party's cause for Senate reform. Senate Reform is something that we all think about, but I do believe that timing and appropriateness is everything in terms of politics. We have to know the right time to speak on the right issue. Unfortunately this type of grandstanding and manipulation is unacceptable. It does nothing to make gains on the issue that is being promoted.

The Leader of the Official Opposition is trying to steer the debate away from one of the most exciting and interesting events that is happening in our country. It will shape the history of Canada. I do not believe that was necessarily intentional. I hope with the appropriate understanding of the north itself that would change. I hope it was not intentional. Given the right information, anyone can become informed, make the right choices and have the appropriate sensitivity about such an exciting opportunity as this for the north.

Instead of highlighting the good work done by the parties involved in the creation of Canada's newest territory and celebrating the biggest event since Newfoundland joined Confederation, the Reform Party is trying to advance its own agenda on the backs of northerners. I regret having to say that because to attack on the basis of partisanship is not part of my personality and normally it is not part of my political dialogue. I like to deal with the issues.

I have a very different view of the chamber of second sober thought. Next year will be my 10th year in the House of Commons. When I was elected in 1988 there were many senators who had lives before they came here. Some had been members of parliament. Some were business people who were renowned and revered in their communities. They were my mentors and taught me many things. I think of Senator Allan MacEachen, bless his soul.

I sat on the Charest committee, the Beaudoin—Dobbie committee and worked on Meech Lake. Much of the basic fundamental understanding I gained on constitutional issues came from some of those senators who were there from the very beginning. They had the collective wisdom, experience, education and knowledge.

To paint that picture of all senators and of that chamber, to put it in disrepute, is unacceptable to me. I have no political motives in saying that, except perhaps to say that my experiences have been different.

Instead of highlighting the good work done by senators from all parties, it was as if they were trying to make their case by using a few extreme examples. There is no Utopia. There is no absolutely perfect system. Every system has its bugs.

The reality is that we have a bicameral system of governance. Northerners are entitled to be fully represented. In my opinion the two chambers are effective as they exist today. Perhaps some individuals, in both Houses, could be faulted at different times. After all, they are only human. But the present system is the one we chose. It is the one that has been upheld and it works. In my opinion it works well.

To be honest, this is a very non-partisan issue for me. I think about Conservative appointed members like Wilbert Keon who is renowned around the world for his work as a heart surgeon. Landon Pearson is extraordinary in her work on behalf of children internationally. She serves as an adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I have worked with Landon Pearson. I know her commitment, dedication and untiring efforts. Jack Austin comes from a business background. He is known throughout Asia for his work.

These people did not just land here with no experience and with nothing to offer. These people have something to offer.

We should be proud when we are elected or appointed. We should be proud of what we do.

I think of Senator Jacques Hébert and his tireless work on behalf of young people, specifically Katimavik.

Sister Peggy Butts is a nun from Atlantic Canada who was appointed to the Senate. It is an unusual and great opportunity.

I was given literature to read when I first came here as a young MP. One of the first pieces I was asked to read was done by Senator David Croll. It was an outstanding piece concerning poverty. Some of its elements are still as relevant today as they were when he first wrote it. It is very thought provoking, very sensitive and all encompassing. Have a look. These people have something to offer.

Senator Eugene Forsey was one of the great thinkers, the big dreamers. In my language a big dreamer is not someone foolish; a big dreamer is someone who has a vision, who understands more than their own vision or more than their own internal little world. They can see many things. He was one of those people.

Senator Serge Joyal was a former secretary of state. He had vision. He is the person who made the agreement with the Northwest Territories for the first Canada-NWT language agreement. Not only did he provide for French-language services or bilingual services, he gave the Northwest Territories the opportunity, with $16 million, to develop an aboriginal language component for its government in which unilingual jurors and unilingual members of their legislative assembly could serve.

These people have something to offer. It is not all bad. Who better represents the views of the people of Labrador than Bill Rompkey, a former member of parliament? I have heard him. I worked with him on the Constitution.

I could go on. These are just a few examples, but they are positive ones. These are people who work just as hard as any member of parliament. They are just as committed as any member of parliament.

This bill goes further than allowing for fair and equitable representation in the Nunavut legislative assembly and in parliament. It is necessary to enable the interim commissioner for Nunavut to enter into formal agreements and contracts that are essential to ensuring that the new government is functional from day one.

The scope of the agreements needed range from the supply of materials to the delivery of medical and educational services for Nunavut residents. This bill makes sure that the essential services and functions of a territorial government will be in place on April 1, 1999.

Without this legislation the interim commissioner and his officials would not be able to enter into these agreements. This means that those reciprocal agreements for health care could not be set up. The agreements allowing Nunavut youth the opportunity to attend southern post-secondary schools could not be negotiated without this legislation. That is why this legislation is so important to the people of Nunavut and to the whole of the territory.

This legislation also deals with the division of assets and liabilities between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Nunavut.

The new territory will require new laws relevant to its own jurisdiction. The original Nunavut Act provides for an initial legislative base for the new territory by grandfathering the application of territorial laws currently in force in the Northwest Territories.

Bill C-39 clarifies how these laws will be applied to Nunavut by defining the practical results in a variety of situations. For example, the grandfathering of laws would normally mean that all bodies that have been created under Northwest Territories law would automatically exist in Nunavut.

However, there are a number of instances where the creation of parallel bodies will not be necessary. With this in mind, Bill C-39 will ensure that the duplicating effect does not include bodies which have no relation to Nunavut, such as municipal corporations in the other region, the Mackenzie Valley.

As well, the proposed amendments will allow some exceptions to the duplicating effect where it is agreed that a single body such as the Workers' Compensation Board can continue to serve both jurisdictions effectively. These are practical amendments that all Canadians have an interest in.

As the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development stated on Monday, Bill C-39 includes amendments that clarify the creation of a Nunavut court system similar to that of the Northwest Territories. The proposed amendments also ensure that cases pending before the courts at the date of division will be clearly sorted out between the Northwest Territories and the new Nunavut courts.

With as much work as there is to finish, we cannot forget the work that has already been accomplished in the creation of Nunavut. One of the most critical issues being addressed is the need to train Inuit for positions at all levels of the Nunavut public service.

In April 1996 the government announced a $39.8 million fund for human resources for Nunavut. More than 500 Inuit have been enrolled to receive training in the use of computers, in administrative skills and financial planning, all of the functions of a modern government. Many are also learning from their participation in building the new Nunavut government buildings and staff housing.

This not only shows how committed the federal government is in establishing the new Nunavut territory; it also shows how committed Nunavut residents are to their new territory by taking advantage of the opportunities to learn these new skills. These skills are very important to the success of the Nunavut territory.

There is a section which we have to become very aware of, that of Senate reform. I need to deal with the specific issue of Senate reform. On page 27 of Bill C-39 it states:

  1. The member of the Senate who represents the Northwest Territories immediately before the day that section 3 of the Nunavut Act comes into force shall, on and after that day, continue as the member of the Senate who represents one of the following:

(a) Nunavut, if the member resides in the part of the Northwest Territories referred to in section 3 of that Act immediately before that day; or

(b) the Northwest Territories, in any other case.

This is legalese. My point is that the legislation is such that once the Nunavut Senate seat is approved, if the current sitting member in the Northwest Territories seat as it is now is from the east, he or she will slide over into the newly created Nunavut seat and a new senator from the west will be appointed.

I think it is a great opportunity. We have a great tradition in our country. We have created 10 provinces and two new territories. We are now dividing the Northwest Territories. We are going to empower those people, give them the tools, give them the support to do for themselves what we have not been able to do for them.

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my intent to speak to Bill C-39, an act to amend the Nunavut Act and the Constitution Act, 1867. It is not my intent to speak on other matters which have nothing to do with this bill, as other members of this House have done. I would like to make that very clear at the outset.

This is a historic piece of legislation which will create a new territory on April 1, 1999, Nunavut, meaning our land in the Inuit language. This new territory is being created as part of the Nunavut land claim agreement signed by the Progressive Conservative government in 1993. The new territory will be 2,242,000 square kilometres, approximately one-fifth the size of Canada and 69% of the existing Northwest Territories.

The idea of creating a new territory in the northern region of Canada was brought to the Parliament of Canada in 1965. It was not until the plebiscite in 1982 that the residents of the Northwest Territories voted on the creation of a new territory. The 1982 plebiscite achieved 54% approval with a 90% yes vote in the eastern regions. Those eastern regions will become the new territory of Nunavut.

The next step was to determine a boundary between the two regions and a plebiscite was held in 1992 to ratify this selection. This was followed in 1993 with the signing of the Nunavut land claim agreement that sets out the creation of the Nunavut territory. This land claim agreement is the largest of its kind in Canada.

Along with setting out the creation of Nunavut it gives Inuit title to 350,000 square kilometres with about one-tenth of this including mineral rights. It also gives the Inuit a stronger voice on some management boards and a share of royalties from oil, gas and mineral development on crown lands. As well it sets out the creation of three new federally funded parks.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Northwest Territories last fall and spoke with a number of people who expressed concern over the readiness of the new territory to meet the deadline in 1999. There are still a number of questions that need to be addressed to ensure a smooth transition to the new territory and no loss of service as this occurs.

This piece of legislation we are now speaking on today addresses a number of concerns arising from the division of the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999. Specifically the legislation decreases the number of members required by the western region to form a government. This recognizes that the 14 members left after division will be sufficient to govern, not the current requirement of 15. As well the legislation will provide for two seats in the House of Commons and the other place, again to ensure that both regions are represented and have a voice in federal government.

Division of assets and liabilities is also considered, as is the establishment of a judicial system that will be prepared to operate in a fair and ongoing manner.

The eastern and western regions of the Arctic however have not satisfactorily dealt with the division of some of the essential services.

Just a few weeks ago the Nunavut leaders rejected a proposal by the Government of the Northwest Territories to divide the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. The proposal was for 60% ownership by the western region and 40% by the eastern region. While the two sides agree that economies of scale and other such factors support maintaining one enterprise for the two regions rather than the establishment of two separate bodies, it is necessary to reach consensus on how this should be achieved. The eastern region feels anything less than a 50:50 split is insufficient.

I use that as an example of some of the hurdles that are still in the way of this becoming reality by April 1, 1999. It is this kind of problem that must be dealt with by the western and eastern regions prior to that date to ensure continuation of operations and services when the new territory comes into being.

Although this legislation states that the law which is currently in place in the Northwest Territories will also apply in the new territory, any disruption in service could have a significant impact on the new region's ability to govern. Financial considerations must also be addressed.

The western region will also be facing significant changes as it is downsized from its current operations and focuses on service provision for the western residents. This will mean changes in government office space and staff requirements. Conversely the eastern region will be building and hiring.

A report prepared by the Government of the Northwest Territories regarding transition costs and the creation of the new territory estimates that $3.8 million will be needed by the western region to modify office space for new requirements as the size of the government changes the focus on the western region.

As well the western region will continue to provide services in the eastern region on a contractual basis until the new territory is well established. This will be an additional cost to both sides. The Government of the Northwest Territories estimates the cost of retention and recruitment of staff to fulfil these contractual obligations will be in the vicinity of $2 million in the first year, 1999 to 2000, and $1 million for each subsequent year.

At the same time the cost of contracting services from the western region will be an extra cost for Nunavut as it pays for the construction of its own infrastructure and staffing requirements. The cost of having to rent space in the western region while also facing the cost of infrastructure in Nunavut is an additional cost that has not been accounted for by the government in making this plan.

Another estimate by the Government of the Northwest Territories report is that only 10% to 15% of its workforce directly affected by division will seek employment in Nunavut. This will exacerbate a problem already faced by Nunavut, obtaining the necessary workforce estimated at 600 people. As well, employment opportunities created by other provisions of the land claim agreement could create competition among employers for experienced staff.

The federal transition funding plan estimates that only 150 Nunavut staff will be hired by the time division occurs. This means Nunavut will not be in a strong position to assume control of operations necessary for the daily operation of government services. At the same time, according to the transition action plan of the Government of the Northwest Territories, experienced staff are already leaving because of job insecurity.

This is an immediate problem for this government which certainly needs to be addressed by this government. To date we have not seen anything put forward by the government to recognize the fact that there is even a problem.

This legislation will address some of the concerns I mentioned earlier. These amendments will provide the interim commissioner with the authority to enter into contractual obligations with staff to ensure that employees do not have to be hired on a short term or temporary basis. This should alleviate some of the problems with job insecurity.

A major component of Nunavut public government that will represent all residents of the eastern region, Inuit and non-Inuit alike, is the decentralization of government. This was an important provision in the land claim agreement that set out the government's structure.

Decentralization it is hoped will provide everyone, even those people living in remote areas, with a voice in government. Given the size of Nunavut and its sparse population, this is laudatory but harder to implement. The chances of attracting qualified staff to the 11 communities of the decentralized government may be difficult especially in the short term. These uncertainties increase the risk of stoppages in services at a critical time when Nunavut is to be created. With the infrastructure not scheduled to be in place until the year 2000 for the outlying communities of the decentralized government, this will place an additional burden on office space in Iqaluit which will be the capital of Nunavut.

Although there is some uncertainty surrounding the creation of Nunavut, and I have tried to set that uncertainty forth today so that everyone in the House can understand it, this is a historic event that is deserving of praise for those people who have worked so long to see this happen. The Inuit both as individual community members and through the different organizations operating on their behalf have worked hard to see their goal achieved. This will be accomplished on April 1, 1999. This legislation ensures that a government will be in place to begin operations at that time. At least we hope this legislation ensures that a government will be in place to begin operations at that time.

I would like to congratulate the people of both the eastern and western Arctic regions who have helped to attempt to bring this to reality.

I am pleased to support this bill in principle and look forward to studying and amending it at the committee stage. It will be at the committee stage that we will continue to try to address some of the inadequacies and some of the problems that threaten this piece of legislation which is by far a piece of proactive legislation and should be commended.

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between the parties and I believe you will find consent for the following motion. I move:

That if a recorded division is requested later this day on second reading of Bill C-39, the said division shall be deemed deferred until Tuesday, April 28, 1998 at the end of the time provided for Government Orders.

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Nunavut Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?