Mr. Speaker, in the 16 short weeks since we first met as an Assembly, the government has invested considerable effort in building momentum with business and industry.
On March 29th, for example, I addressed the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy Task Force on Aboriginal Communities and Non-Renewable Resource Development -- an important gathering of industry experts and key government officials held in Yellowknife. It provided an opportunity to discuss the vast development potential of the NWT's natural resources. There we reviewed the importance of development to achieving a secure economic future for our residents and the need to balance the extraction of resources with protection of the environment, so that development is sustainable and our renewable resources are protected over the long term.
In April and May, I spoke to both the Calgary and Edmonton Chambers of Commerce about the significant benefits that can be expected by Alberta businesses if they commit to greater investment in and trade with the NWT. Alberta is our largest trading partner, and with the potential for oil and gas development and expansion of our diamond industry, there is no question that economic development in the Northwest Territories will be mutually beneficial to the residents of both jurisdictions.
At these meetings, the members of these Alberta Chambers of Commerce were encouraged to consider partnerships with their counterparts in the North, and to consider the NWT as a tourism destination in their personal and business planning.
On May 10th, a similar message was given to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association when, at their invitation, I gave the keynote address at their annual conference in Calgary. The membership of this CEPA is made up of executives from the major players in the oil and gas sector -- people who may play an instrumental role in the development of a Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline and in the ongoing development of the Liard and Mackenzie Valleys.
The key players in the oil and gas industry are now aware that the NWT has come a long way since the days of the Berger Inquiry. We are a territory that is open for business in the non-renewable resource sector. Our only prerequisites are that oil and gas development brings jobs and benefits for the people of the NWT; that developments are carried out responsibly with care and concern for the environment; and that northern aboriginal people have the opportunity for equity participation in and management of the gas pipeline.
Mr. Speaker, our message was reinforced June 11th through the 14th, when the GNWT participated in the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary, Alberta. This premiere event for the oil and gas industry was attended by a delegation of Ministers and Members, headed by Deputy Premier Jane Groenewegen and Mr. Floyd Roland, chair of the Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development.
The united presence of Ministers and Members at this international event helped to reinforce the message that this government takes current and future oil and gas development very seriously.
With respect to continued momentum in the development of a northern diamond industry, the Honourable Jake Ootes, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment and Mr. Steve Nitah, representing the Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development, represented this government at the Second Annual International Rough Diamond Conference in Israel in late March.
At this event, which brought together 90 percent of the world's rough diamond producers, Minister Ootes gave a presentation on our secondary diamond industry and participated in a panel discussion. Representation at this conference laid the groundwork for future partnerships between NWT businesses and world-class diamond producers.
On June 5th in Yellowknife, Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development Minister Joseph Handley and Education, Culture and Employment Minister Jake Ootes met with President Charles Bornstein and representatives of the Diamond High Council (HRD) of Antwerp, Belgium. The Diamond High Council has proven to be an excellent partner which supported our vision for secondary diamond industries in the North when few others did. Together, we are working to establish a polished diamond grading facility in the NWT.
On June 6th, Minister Ootes and Commissioner Glenna Hansen traveled to Fort Liard to represent the GNWT and join the community, Acho Dene Koe Holdings and Chevron Canada Resources and take part in their "First Gas" celebrations. The linking of the K29 pipe to the Pointed Mountain Pipeline will bring lasting benefits to the people of Fort Liard. It exemplifies the achievement that can be reached when northern communities demonstrate initiative and determination in pursuing maximum benefits from the development of their natural resources, and when industry demonstrates a willingness to partner with northern businesses. I am very proud of the achievements of Chief Harry Deneron and the people of Fort Liard and hope that they inspire other Northerners to dream big and reach high.
Mr. Speaker, the GNWT participated in the tourism industry's Rendezvous Canada, held from May 6th through the 11th in Calgary, Alberta, which gave us the opportunity to highlight the reasons why the NWT is beginning to become a destination of choice for visitors from all over the world.
At a time when the Canadian dollar struggles to compete in world markets, Canada has become a popular vacation option for Canadians, and a bargain for the international traveller. The time has never been better to let the world know that the NWT continues to offer tourists a unique and memorable travel experience.
We are committed to promoting the export of tourism products and services to enhance the diversification of the NWT economy and to support our local business community. As we move further into our term, we will continue to work with all of you on additional opportunities to market our tourism potential.