February 24, 1955

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT

INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS

LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources) moved

that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:

That it is expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Northwest Territories Act to increase the sessional indemnity of elected members of the Northwest Territories council.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Mr. Chairman, it is proposed to increase the indemnities of the elected members of the Northwest Territories council. The level of those indemnities was set in 1951 when the Northwest Territories Act was amended to provide for the first time for the election of members to the council from that part of Canada which now comprises the Northwest Territories. It has become apparent that the important responsibilities and work of the elected members of council warrant the payment of a higher scale of indemnities, and it is proposed to make the required amendment to provide for this.

With the present scale the members now receive $50 a day for each day they are in attendance and the maximum in a year is

$1,000. It is proposed to increase the daily indemnity to $100, with the maximum increase to $2,000 a year.

An additional minor amendment is proposed to clarify the powers of the commissioner in council of the Northwest Territories to appropriate moneys from the Northwest Territories revenue account which have been credited to the account from time to time by vote of parliament. It is to clarify the power of the commissioner of the Northwest Territories to appropriate the moneys which have come not only from territorial revenues, but those which he has received under the tax rental agreement that exists between the federal government and the Northwest Territories government.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I am glad that the government has introduced this resolution and the legislation which will be consequent upon it. The number of people in the Northwest Territories is increasing and will continue to increase, and the responsibilities of the elected members will increase constantly also. Their constituencies are extremely large, and it seems only reasonable that they should have an increase in their indemnity, both in the amount of the daily indemnity for the sessions they attend and the maximum which they can secure.

If I understood the minister correctly, this same piece of legislation is going to provide for some change in the power of the commissioner, which is not mentioned in the resolution. Perhaps I misunderstood the minister in that regard, because I see him shaking his head. His remarks in regard to the power of the commissioner to allocate funds apply to a different piece of legislation?

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

I wish to assure my hon. friend that it is, as I said, only a clarification, because the commissioner in council of the Northwest Territories has already in the past appropriated funds which were received under the tax rental agreement. But because of the wording of the present act, we thought it would be better to clarify his position in that connection. I cannot refer to the bill at this time or its clauses, but I can assure the committee that this is only a clarification. There is no change in the powers of the commissioner in council.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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CCF

Hugh Alexander Bryson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryson:

This particular resolution has to do with an amendment to the Northwest Territories Act in respect to an increase in the salaries of the elected members of the council. The resolution immediately preceding this one on the order paper is an almost identical resolution and has to do with an amendment to the Yukon Act. It asks precisely the same thing in so far as the salaries 50433-951

Northwest Territories Act are concerned. I am sure that hon. members are always anxious to expedite the work of the house. Possibly for that reason some latitude might be given in discussing the resolution before us if a reference is made to the Yukon.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

The next item of business announced by the leader of the house last night is the resolution which precedes a bill to amend the Yukon Act.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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CCF

Hugh Alexander Bryson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryson:

The only reason I mentioned it was that I thought we could avoid repetition.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

It is the next order of business.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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CCF

Hugh Alexander Bryson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryson:

If one is satisfied that the present type of administration seems to be the best in so far as the Northwest Territories are concerned, and that the present administration does carry out satisfactorily law, order and good government of the territories, one could not do anything but agree with the minister's proposal that an increase in the salaries of the elected members of council is in order. However, I do not hold that view entirely. I believe a better system of administration could be devised, and I should like to say something about that for a moment, because I believe it is relevant to the discussion.

In the light of the tremendous development that has taken place, and is taking place in the territories, I hope the government will give consideration to setting up in the north a type of government similar to what we have in the provinces. They should have provincial status.

It must be obvious that the present administration in that area has outlived its usefulness and to all intents and purposes has become obsolete. I believe it is time that the northland was given provincial status in order to facilitate the tremendous development that is going on there at the present time.

As I said a moment ago, the present administration is unable to cope with the rapid growth of that area. Certainly the present salaries paid to the elected members of the Northwest Territories council is not much of an incentive to them to accept and carry out their great responsibilities. It is obvious that they are acting only in a very minor advisory capacity to the commissioner, who in the case of the Northwest Territories is appointed by order in council and is the deputy minister of northern affairs and national resources.

This observation seems to be borne out by the facts. Last year the Northwest Territories council met three times. They met

1496 HOUSE OF

Northwest Territories Act once in Yellowknife for a five-day session when they passed 55 bills, 17 of which were substantial amendments to existing ordinances. The second session which was held at Ottawa lasted five days, at which 17 major pieces of legislation were dealt with. The third meeting was also held in Ottawa when the council sat for only one day and passed only one bill. It would seem obvious that these people became affected by the Ottawa atmosphere.

There may have been another reason in the fact that they are allowed only $1,000 a year.

I suppose after the first session, at which they felt they had given their best efforts when they passed 55 bills, the other sessions did not warrant as much effort. As I say, at the second session they passed 17 pieces of legislation, and at the last session which lasted for only one day they passed only one bill. Then again it may be that they used their powers of observation while in Ottawa. Possibly the house was sitting and they were able to see how bills were dealt with here.

The living allowance granted to members iof council is $15 a day with a maximum of :$200 in a year. I should like the minister to give some clarification of that and possibly comment upon why it is that the living allowance for the elected members of the Northwest Territories council is $15 per day while that for members of the Yukon council is only $10 per day. I wonder why there is that discrepancy.

No mention is made of the salary of the commissioner and possibly there could be some clarification there.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

He is my deputy minister. He has his salary as deputy minister and is not paid as commissioner.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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CCF

Hugh Alexander Bryson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryson:

Another thing we should have clarified is why it is that under certain circumstances members of the council will be able to claim their indemnity even if they are not able to attend the sessions. There must be some reason for this and I should like to hear the minister's comment.

There is another aspect on which I should like some comment by the minister because I find it hard to understand. Why is it that when a fine is imposed under the act, following a conviction for the illicit manufacture of alcohol in the territories, whoever acts as informer is awarded the total amount of the fine. I wonder what is the thinking behind that.

In conclusion I should like to say that I hope the government gives immediate and serious consideration to giving provincial

status to this northern part of Canada, making it the eleventh province of Canada. At the present time there are 15 elected members of the two territories, including the two commissioners. While I do not suggest that that number should be reduced under provincial status, I think that that form of government would be better and would be able to cope with the development that is taking place there much better than can be done under the existing system.

Speaking to the Canadian Club in Toronto on November 22, 1954, the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Lesage) traced the history of these northern areas in detail, pointing out the tremendous developments that have taken place and are now taking place, and also spoke of their future possibilities. He pointed to the early development of the western provinces as having a parallel in the north of today.

Surely the formation of provincial governments early in the history of western Canada gave a great impetus to its spectacular development. There is every reason to believe that a similar impetus would result from giving provincial status to our northland. By so doing we would once again be exhibiting that same kind of spirit, the same kind of vision and the same courage.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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LIB

Mervyn Arthur Hardie

Liberal

Mr. Hardie:

Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to speak on this resolution as I was happy to accept it as it was. I was glad to note that there is to be an increase in the indemnity of council members. I thought that when the bill was before us and we knew its contents I would speak, but as the hon. member for Humboldt-Melfort (Mr. Bryson) has attempted to tell us what he knows about the Northwest Territories council I feel I should say a word.

The hon. member mentioned that last year there were three meetings of the Northwest Territories council. In 1954 there was one meeting of the council because that was an election year. That meeting was held in Yellowknife.

As a former member of the council I am glad that the indemnities are being increased. These elected representatives have to cover fair-sized constituencies; mine was in the neighbourhood of 200,000 square miles. I remember receiving a cheque for the year from the Northwest Territories council for $200. I still do not know how they expected us to cover our constituencies and attend meetings of the council on $200.

I would like to suggest to the minister that when he brings the bill in he have it provide a minimum of at least $1,000 a year.

That would enable the members of the council to visit their constituencies and I think it would be a fair minimum.

As far as the maximum is concerned, I think $3,000 would be adequate. I am not so much interested in the maximum, but some provision should be made in regard to the minimum. I just wanted to straighten out the hon. member across the way on the meetings held in 1954.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in.

Mr. Lesage thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 179, to amend the Northwest Territories Act.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ACT
Subtopic:   INCREASE IN INDEMNITY OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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YUKON ACT

AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LIVING ALLOWANCE AND ATTENDANCE OF COUNCIL MEMBERS

LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources) moved

that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution:

That it is expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Yukon Act to increase the indemnity and the living allowance to be paid to members of the Yukon council while in attendance at a session of the council and to provide that under certain conditions a member shall be deemed to be in attendance at a session.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Applewhaite in the chair.

Topic:   YUKON ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LIVING ALLOWANCE AND ATTENDANCE OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
Permalink
LIB

Jean Lesage (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

Mr. Chairman, the new Yukon Act provides for payment of indemnities for each day's attendance in council sessions and for an annual limitation on the total amount of indemnity that can be paid to each member on the same basis as that at present in effect in the Northwest Territories. The bill which has just been introduced to amend the Northwest Territories Act provides for an increase in the indemnity paid to the elected members of the Northwest Territories council. It is considered that the same new basis should apply to the members of the Yukon council who are all elected, as hon. members know.

It is also proposed to increase the daily living allowance to $25-and I should like to draw this to the attention of my friend the hon. member for Humboldt-Melfort (Mr. Bryson)-which will put the living allowance in the Yukon on the same basis as that in the Northwest Territories, and to provide for the payment of these allowances on days when council is in session but is adjourned for the day. We amended the Northwest Territories Act to that effect at the last session. This provision would bring the payment of living allowance to members of the Yukon council

Yukon Act

into line with that provided for members of the Northwest Territories council following the amendment that was passed in this house last year.

Topic:   YUKON ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LIVING ALLOWANCE AND ATTENDANCE OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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LIB

James Aubrey Simmons

Liberal

Mr. Simmons:

Mr. Chairman, I am sure you will agree that the increase in indemnities for members of the Yukon territorial council is long overdue. I am certainly pleased that the minister is bringing in this resolution, and I am happy to support it.

The present council consists of five members who understand the problems of our northland, having resided for many years in the Yukon where they brought up their families. These men have vision and possess high integrity and ability to deal with the various problems with which we have to contend in the north. We in the Yukon are extremely fortunate in having elected members of their calibre and understanding to represent us. I hope that the proposed bill, when introduced, will make provision for a substantial increase in the indemnities and bring them into line with those paid to members of the legislative assemblies of the various provinces.

One of the hon. members who spoke on the previous bill mentioned the fact that the Northwest Territories should have provincial status at this time. I think at the same time he was probably referring to the Yukon Territory. I have been thinking along those lines for quite some time. There is nothing that would please me better than to see both territories given provincial status. The time is coming-I believe within another ten years-in the Yukon when we will be in a position to accept provincial status; but right now, Mr. Chairman, we have not the population or the industry to support a provincial government. In other words, we are practically wards of the federal government and we must get along with them for a while, much as I should like to see the situation otherwise.

Topic:   YUKON ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LIVING ALLOWANCE AND ATTENDANCE OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

Mr. Chairman, just as there was a good case for increasing the indemnity for the elected members of the Northwest Territories council, similarly there is a good case as far as the Yukon is concerned. I am sure that everyone in this party is convinced that that action should be taken and thus is in agreement with the proposed legislation.

There is, however, one thing on which I should like to have a little bit of clarification from the minister. As I understand it, the present payments in the Yukon are in the amount of $1,000 as far as each session of the council is concerned at which a member is in attendance, and an amount of $10 a day for expenses. That is the provision under

Yukon Act

the revised statutes of 1952. But there is in existence a further act which was passed in 1952-53 and which provides for $50 a day up to a maximum of $1,000 and $15 a day expenses. Apparently this legislation will only come into effect on the 1st of April this year. I wanted to ask the minister if the same situation is going to prevail so far as this new legislation is concerned; that is, is it going to be some two years before it comes into effect? Or, from the practical point of view, is the legislation which was passed in the 1952-53 session and which would normally come into effect on April 1 of this year, the legislation under which these people are going to be compensated or is this new legislation going to come into effect immediately?

Topic:   YUKON ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LIVING ALLOWANCE AND ATTENDANCE OF COUNCIL MEMBERS
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February 24, 1955