Mr. Speaker, today, I would like to advise Members of the results of a meeting I attended as Minister responsible for the Arctic Winter Games while in Whitehorse recently with the political leaders of the other participating jurisdictions and the Arctic Winter Games Corporation Board members. The purpose of this meeting
was to discuss the future of the games and various issues surrounding the current games' format, and to give political direction to the Arctic Winter Games Corporation Board. As Members may be aware, the Arctic Winter Games Corporation acts as guardian of the general philosophy and intent of the games on behalf of the governments involved.
At this meeting, the corporation was looking for direction on the formal admission of Greenland to the games and the involvement of our other circumpolar neighbours in the event, the cultural aspect of the games, and the size and composition of the units involved.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report on the first two issues that the Greenland minister, the Hon. Marianne Jensen, has committed to send a team to the next games in Slave Lake in Northern Alberta and that the commitment of Greenland over the longer term looks quite positive.
I am also pleased to report that the other ministers and the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska have given general support for a gradual expansion of the games to include possibly Northern Quebec, Labrador and other circumpolar jurisdictions.
On the issue of the cultural element of the games, the assembled leaders also agreed that the corporation should develop a permanent policy for the inclusion of a cultural element in each Arctic Winter Games. As Yellowknife and Whitehorse have shown, this component of the Arctic Winter Games adds to the unique flavour of the event and provides an opportunity for the social interchange that is so important among the circumpolar community.
Mr. Speaker, the question of the overall size of the Arctic Winter Games and the size and composition of the participating units is somewhat more complex and certainly of central importance to all governments involved in the Arctic Winter Games. The Northwest Territories has always considered the Arctic Winter Games as a mass participation event designed to involve as many people as possible, within reasonable limits. While the other units do not disagree with this philosophy, there are different opinions on how to achieve the goals of the Arctic Winter Games, given the current constraints under which we live.
As a result of the discussion on this issue, it became apparent that there was a need for further research by the Arctic Winter Games Corporation and further discussion by the governments involved. It was agreed that the political leaders, at the invitation of the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska, will meet again in August or September in Eagle River, Alaska to further discuss and resolve this and other outstanding issues related to the future direction of the Arctic Winter Games,
Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories remains strongly committed to the Arctic Winter Games and the philosophy behind it. I look forward to Members' continued support for the pre-eminent sporting, social and cultural event. Thank you.