This is page numbers 6417 - 6500 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was indigenous.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Notices of motion. Member for Thebacha.

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on Friday, September the 29th, I will move the following motion:

I move, second by the honourable Member for Hay River North, that when this House adjourns on Friday, September 29, 2023, it shall be adjourned until Tuesday, October the 3rd, 2023;

And furthermore, that at any time prior to October 3rd, 2023, if the Speaker is satisfied, after consultation with the Executive Council and Members of the Legislative Assembly, that the public interest requires that the House should meet at an earlier time during the adjournment, or at a time later than the scheduled resumption of the House, the Speaker may give notice and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it has been duly adjourned to that time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Notices of motion. Motions. Notices of motion for the first reading of bills. First reading of bills. Second reading of bills.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters. Bill 23, 29, 77, and 82, Committee report 52-19(2), Minister's Statement 264-19(2), Tabled Document 681-19(2), Tabled Document 973 and 974-19(2), with Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes in the chair.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

I now call Committee of the Whole to order. What is the wish of committee? Member for Frame Lake

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Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Madam la Presidente. Committee wishes to Consider Bills 29, 77, and 82, and Tabled Document 973-19(2), Capital estimates 2024-2025. Mahsi.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Does committee agree?

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, committee. We'll take a short recess and resume with the first item.

---SHORT RECESS

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

I'll now call Committee of the Whole back to order. Committee has agreed to consider Bill 29, Resource Royalty Information Disclosure Statute Amendment Act. I'll ask the sponsoring Member to introduce the bill. Member for Frame Lake.

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Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thank you, Madam Chair. Thanks for the opportunity to offer opening remarks on Bill 29.

I just, first, want to thank the law clerk who assisted with the research, drafting instructions, and legal advice in preparing the bill. I want to also acknowledge the work of the Department of Justice staff who assisted with the drafting of the bill. And I also want to acknowledge the separation of my role on the committee and as sponsor of the bill. I always declared a conflict of interest if the bill was discussed at committee.

Madam Chair, I'm going to take a few minutes to actually go through a number of things. And I realize it's a three clause bill but it's been a while since we've talked about this. So I'd like to talk about why this bill is necessary, what it does, and what it does not do, engagement that was undertaken, and to briefly respond to some concerns that I've heard. At the end, of course, I'll be pleased to try to answer any questions raised by committee. Let's start with why this bill is necessary.

The current mineral and petroleum management legislation and regulations have been interpreted and applied in a manner that does not allow for the sharing of any royalty information with MLAs or Indigenous governments. The only information available to us and the public is in the public accounts and main estimates where combined resource royalties for mining and petroleum development are found on an annual basis. The Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment initiated a review of the Mining Fiscal Regime in October of 2020. It's hard to see how a meaningful and comprehensive review can take place if more royalty information cannot be shared on a confidential basis with MLAs. Sharing information with Regular MLAs is at the foundation of how our consensus style government works.

So what kind of royalty information might be helpful to know in reviewing the fiscal regime for mining?

The only information on mining royalties held by GNWT is that submitted on an annual royalty return form. It's three pages. I've looked it over. There's information there about mineral production for individual mines and the value of that production, various deductions in the form of allowances and depreciation are recorded and calculated on those forms as well.

In evaluating the performance of the current system and options that could improve or maximize retention of benefits, it would be helpful and perhaps even essential to be able to understand how deductions and allowances are used and what alternatives there may be. All of this can and should be done in a confidential manner to protect business interests just as Regular MLAs get confidential information on issues such as taxation, program changes, or infrastructure. This is how we make informed decisions in our consensus government system.

There are still no publicly available proposals, plan, or schedule to fix this problem. There are still no concrete proposals for mining royalties or even improved public disclosure after four years of this Assembly. Bill 29 is my attempt to address this problem in the least intrusive manner possible by giving the Minister the ability to share royalty information on a confidential basis.

I also thought and believe that if MLAs could get such information on a confidential basis, so should Indigenous governments. They fought very hard to get to the table in terms of co-drafting of legislation and regulations in the last Assembly and that has now been formalized in the recent legislative development protocol and process convention.

What Bill 29 actually does. There are three small, targeted changes to the laws that govern mineral and petroleum rights administration. The language of the bill is modeled after what is already in the mining regulations as of June 1st, 2018, and the Mineral Resources Act passed in 2019. There are already provisions in our legislation for royalty information to be shared within Government of the Northwest Territories for, quote, "use in the development and evaluation of policy for the GNWT." End of quote.

This means that royalty information is already available to be shared with Cabinet and other departments. This was modeled after what Ontario does. This bill would extend that possible sharing of royalty information to include MLAs and Indigenous governments who could receive it at the discretion of the ITI Minister and with conditions to protect its confidentiality. Bill 29 does not provide for any public disclosure of royalty information. It does not require any additional reporting from the resource sector or industry. It does not allow MLAs or Indigenous governments to access any royalty or other confidential information from the private sector that has not already been disclosed to GNWT.

The bill simply gives discretion to the ITI Minister to share royalty information with Regular MLAs and Indigenous governments for the sole purpose of development and evaluation of policy for the GNWT and on a confidential basis. This is not unusual as such information sharing is at the core of consensus government and our new way of working with Indigenous governments.

I started work on this bill in February 2021. Research and drafting took until May when a copy of the bill and a briefing note were provided to Cabinet and Regular MLAs almost four weeks in advance of the May/June sitting. I invited comments and concerns and suggestions for changes. Nothing in writing was received. I acknowledge there was no engagement with Indigenous governments or industry about the bill before its introduction. This is a reflection of the limited resources available to Regular MLAs and the available opportunities to introduce new legislation. At the same time, I was also concerned with the review of the Mining Fiscal Regime continuing without the ability to share royalty information. After the bill was referred to committee, I sent copies of the bill and a briefing note to the members of the Intergovernmental Council and non-IGC Indigenous governments with an offer to engage if there were any questions or concerns. No responses were received.

I had informal meetings and exchanges with some Indigenous government staff and advisors over the summer of 2021. I also offered to meet with the Chamber of Mines. I also met with the ITI Minister to better understand any concerns or issues there as well. I followed up with a further letter to Indigenous governments in July 2023, and I tabled those letters earlier today, but I did not get much feedback.

Standing committee could not reach agreement on how to proceed with the bill. However, standing committee did recommend that the bill should receive further consideration in Committee of the Whole when it reported back on November 23, 2021. What I heard and have seen from those discussions and the submissions on the bill are some of the following:

Concerns that the Private Member's Bill goes outside the Legislative Development Protocol with Indigenous governments. I acknowledge this new way of working together. The minor nature of the changes in the bill and the fact that they don't establish or take away any rights but simply allow information sharing appears to have generally addressed these concerns. There has been some support for the bill as it can enable an informed discussion of royalties and benefit retention. Some have suggested changes to the bill to make the provision of royalty information sharing mandatory. I continue to support discretionary authority for the Minister as the least intrusive method of enabling royalty information sharing while protecting confidentiality.

There is some misunderstanding of the scope, purpose, and nature of these changes proposed in Bill 29. This includes statements on duplication with federal reporting of extractive sector payments, sharing of information beyond royalties with the public or competitors, adding additional reporting by industry, and the timing of the bill with regard to the overall review of the Mining Fiscal Regime.

I have waited four years for the development of mining regulations to get to the point of detailed analysis of royalties, options, and public debate, but we are still not there yet, and time is running out on this Assembly. This bill is an interim step to ensure that there can be a thorough and informed review of mining and other resource royalties. I have concluded that it is still in the public interest to proceed with the bill to allow this work to take place in the next Assembly. This bill simply allows the ITI minister to share resource royalty information on a confidential basis with MLAs and Indigenous governments. Nothing more, and nothing less. No public disclosure, no new reporting or sharing of other information. However, royalty information sharing with protection of confidentiality is consistent with how consensus government already functions and how we work with Indigenous governments. It will also support an informed review of the Mining Fiscal Regime that is already underway and needs to be concluded in the 20th Assembly.

Thanks for the chance to offer opening remarks, and I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns of committee. Mahsi, Madam Chair.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Do you have any witnesses to bring into the Chamber?

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Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Yes, I do, Madam Chair.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Sergeant-at-arms, please escort the witness to the Chamber. Thank you. You're good? Okay. Member for Frame Lake, please introduce your witness.

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Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Madam Chair. I have law clerk Toby Kruger sitting next to me who helped me develop and draft the bill. Thank you very much.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Welcome. I will now turn to the chair of Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, the committee that reviewed the bill, for any opening comments on Bill 29.

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Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Madam Chair. Bill 29, Resource Royalty Information Disclosure Statute Amendment Act received second reading in the Legislative Assembly on June 1st, 2021, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment for review. The standing committee held a public hearing with the sponsoring Member on September 15th, 2021. Presentations were provided from the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, the Mining Association of Canada, and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Through the public engagement period, committee also received submissions from the Tlicho Government, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, the Mining Association of Canada, Arctic Canadian Diamond Company, the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, and Alternatives North. Submissions on the bill were polarized. Industry was not supportive. Other stakeholders expressed support with the intent of the bill. Members held varying positions. Committee was concerned whether the bill would duplicate information available under the Extractive Sectors Transparency Measures Act but recognized there was differences in the royalty payments reported through ESTMA and the GNWT'S public accounts. There was concern that Bill 29 implicated the mining sector to disclose information not required of other sectors such as quarrying or forestry. The committee recognized that even if Bill 29 was enacted, the Minister would still hold discretion on whether to disclose confidential information. The committee was concerned with the unknown risks regarding potential breaches of confidential information made available through Bill 29. A clause-by-clause review was held on September 15th, 2021, and the committee could not reach agreement on how to proceed with the bill it was recommended to proceed for consideration in Committee of the Whole. Individual Members may have other additional questions and comments. Thank you, Madam Chair.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. I will now open the floor to general comments on Bill 29. Member for Great Slave.

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Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, I would be remiss if I didn't bring forward more details on exactly what the Chamber of Mines, as well as the Mining Association of Canada, what their concerns were with this bill. Some of this may be a bit duplicative of what's already been said but I think it bears repeating.

So it does propose to make changes to three pieces of legislation which could have far reaching negative effects on our mineral investment competitiveness. Industry members found that the bill was duplicative of other legislation. It proposes unusual sharing of confidential tax information beyond government staff who have the responsibility and assistance to protect business sensitive financial information. Disconcertingly, this confidential and sensitive information would also be available to business competitors, and it is being proposed before the GNWT has completed its study on resource royalties and the tax system. And as well, Madam Chair, this does not support the 19th Legislative Assembly's mandate to, quote, "increase resource exploration and development," and, quote, "restore levels of investment, partnership, employment, and growth in the NWT's economy."

As my colleague mentioned, it is duplicative of the ESTMA legislation, and that is the Extractive Sector Transparency Management Act, where individual mines report what they pay to governments in various taxes, including royalties, which are then posted publicly. This legislation was advanced and supported by the Canadian mining industry, working together with two NGOs, to become law.

In Canada, it is fully consistent with other international financial payment purporting schemes in the United Kingdom and in Europe. These jurisdictions mutually recognize each other's legislation as equivalent. This equivalency recognition allows for a company to report government payments only once and have that report address reporting requirements in multiple jurisdictions, minimizing reporting burden and duplication. ESTMA is fundamentally an anticorruption tool to determine whether payments made by industry to government match with government reporting of payments received. While not an issue in Canada, these anticorruption mechanisms have high relevance in other parts of the world where governance is weak and corruption is high. Quebec is the only other Canadian jurisdiction with similar legislation, and it too recognizes legislation in other jurisdictions as equivalent.

The extra details that are proposed in this Private Member's bill are therefore unnecessary, inconsistent with international norms, and they propose many sensitive competitiveness issues for industry and government that are not in the Northwest Territories' best interest. It is the belief of the Chamber of Mines the disclosures made under ESTMA are sufficient to provide the public with an appreciation for the royalties paid without exposing commercially sensitive aspects of each individual business to competitors or the general public. This is also unusual and inappropriate sharing of sensitive tax information. Mineral resource royalties are essentially a profits tax. They are calculated through a legislative formula that considers various factors that could affect profits positively or negatively and differentially for one mine compared to another. These include sensitive, confidential information such as market price, but in the case of diamonds, also the efficiency of an individual company's customer supply chains to maximize their own market price. It also considers business losses, capital investments, fuel costs, depreciation and amortization, and the various other taxes that companies must also pay.

In the NWT, ice road costs, for example, the cost of self-generating power, and property taxes, and other costs associated with our acute infrastructure deficit, are also some of the unique additional costs incurred by mine operators that are taken into consideration. Current NWT legislation recognizes and respects the need to protect such potentially sensitive business information. For example, under the current Northwest Territories mining regulations and under the upcoming Mineral Resources Act, through the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Under current privacy laws, this detailed financial information is limited to the government staff responsible to use it for detailed tax calculations and who are obligated to safeguard it. The current legislation is designed to protect the public interest by requiring companies to follow the law in reporting to government the detailed information required for royalty calculation purposes. If enacted, this bill would unusually allow the release of tax information and sharing of other sensitive information beyond government staff who have the authority and responsibility to audit and assess company confidential information with politicians and Indigenous governments without this responsibility. We say "unusually" as this is not the norm in other jurisdictions in Canada.

This broadening of the distribution of the information to a much larger group of people also substantially increases the likelihood of a breach of confidentiality requirements. As the number of people who have the information increases, the level of confidentiality applied to the information decreases. The type of disclosure proposed under Bill 29 could pose harm to the commercial side of the mineral resource business for companies that mine or may be considering it in the NWT.

Government regularly protects all businesses and industries with confidentiality of their financial information for tax reporting calculations. Bill 29 is unusually intrusive in proposing that detailed, sensitive information be shared more broadly. It begs the question, would government then ask other mining and related businesses to reveal confidential information related to their profitability?

Similarly, our personal tax filings are not available to politicians. We see no added value, and the Chamber does not, and the fact that the added risk in sharing business details beyond those whose jobs and skills and responsibilities are to use this data to calculate royalties and other taxes.

It is also noted in the statement from the Chamber that there's unclear intentions but that the bill is jumping the gun on the GNWT's royalties study. The intentions behind Bill 29 are unclear. If it's to allow politicians to propose different royalty systems, we'd suggest this is not appropriate. Since we understand the GNWT ITI is currently conducting an in-depth royalty review to look into this issue, that process should be completed to help the standing committees, all MLAs, and the public understand the current system before discussing options to others. And I do recognize that things have advanced since the time that this was shared with us. Again, the Chamber likes to point out that they're not aware of any other Canadian jurisdiction that is requiring such an unusual level of sharing of detailed and frankly sensitive business information as this bill would require. And like I said before, the closest might be Quebec but that only requires a partial reporting of information from the rock quality to the process plant. So in other words, they do not require any information on processes and sales beyond that.

I won't go into any further. I think everybody can understand why this does not support the GNWT mandate -- or sorry, this Assembly's mandate to promote and secure our mining sector. I don't think that it's any surprise that I would come out and -- to not support this bill. I definitely was a member of the committee that was not in agreement with it. For me, all this is doing is giving the Minister just yet another option to say maybe I'll share it with you. It isn't obligating her to do so, so therefore it just seems to be very redundant and not necessary to me. Thank you, Madam Chair.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Member for Yellowknife North.

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Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yeah, thank you, Madam Chair. I have a little trouble with this bill because I think it's -- well, through committee discussions, the department's opposed to it, and it is a discretionary power to the Minister. So even if it was in place, absolutely nothing would have changed to my knowledge. The Minister's not willing to share that information, and just because she may share it as for the bill, it seems pretty clear that they would not actually share it. So I don't know what it accomplishes.

That being said, I guess I just want to -- we've spent a lot of time trying to understand royalties. There's essentially one number for royalties in the territories so roughly $20 million in the public accounts. Obviously, that fluctuates on how profitable mines are. And you have to really make a lot of assumptions about that number. First off, you have to know that that is the total amount. Then we give the feds half, and then we give half of our half to Indigenous governments. You have to know that it includes Norman Wells. We don't really know how much money we get from Norman Wells, but it is -- the federal government owns a third of it, so you can go through their reports and generally try to guess how much money we get from Norman Wells oil. There's no other oil obviously paying us royalties. And then you can assume, really, it's three diamond mines doing the rest. On occasion, there has been another mine in the territory that has paid royalties but historically, we know, you know, you can assume something, like, Snap Lake never paid us any royalties. We don't know how much royalties we got from mines like Con or Giant or Pine Point. We don't have that information. That was federal -- before devolution. But there is a single line in a federal report that tells you that Giant Mine paid less in royalties than it paid in -- its workers paid in income tax. I think about that single line a lot, and I think it would be very helpful that perhaps when one of our diamond mines close, we publish some of these historical royalty numbers that shows how many carats they mined, how profitable they were, how much they paid. I've asked the Minister at times, you know, why did royalties all of a sudden get cut in half. And they can't answer that question publicly. They can't say well, one of the diamond mines had a bad year. That's business information.

How confidential is any of this is a bit debatable. If it's a publicly traded company, you can buy a stock and you can go see all this information. It's quite available. Companies in exploration actually really like to share this information on how their mines are doing because they want to raise capital. And then, as has been mentioned, there is ESTMA. So the mines voluntarily report quite a bit of this. The numbers are not quite the same as ESTMA. So I don't know whether if this passed the Minister would have gave us anything at all in committee in doing our report. Probably not. I'd like to think that if this existed and perhaps a mine had closed, long since closed, the companies stopped to exist, we would then publish some of that historical royalty information because I find it extremely interesting. I know that during our current royalty review, we are adding a lot of -- considering adding a lot more exceptions to royalties. You know, whether they invest capital in the Northwest Territories, whether they have a headquarters in the Northwest Territories.

I think if you do that, there's kind of an obligation to say why did this mine pay zero money in royalties and to be able to somewhat explain confidentially why the royalties were done. You could say, you know, Company X moved their headquarters and invested a lot of capital, that's why there's zero royalty dollars coming in on that line item. Right now, none of that information is available on a confidential basis. I think there are occasions where it would be warranted, and the Minister might even appreciate -- and the company, in fact. I found a lot of the mines are quite willing to explain their ESTMA and why, you know, perhaps you gave an Indigenous government a bunch of cash one year, and then instead their IBA of required jobs so they didn't get any money the next year. They are actually quite willing to explain how and willing to be transparent. And so I think, you know -- I don't ever see a Minister abusing this, and -- well, I hesitate to see a Minister even using it, but I think there are definitely cases where we will hold this historical data for the decades to come, and we will do research on our royalties where it would be helpful to be able to share it on a confidential basis.

You know, at the end of the day, I will support it because of that. Thank you, Madam Chair.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Are there any further comments? Can we proceed to -- oh, sorry. Minister.

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Chair. Madam Chair, I do have some remarks I want to make that I have drafted. I do want to just start by acknowledging the frustration that it has taken a long time and we are still in the process of completing the Mineral Resource Act regulations. And through that process, without the regulations, of course, this is where we wind up in this situation we are in. And there's a very real chance at the end of the drafting of the regulations when the entire process is complete, including royalties, there may well be a process in place by which the kind of disclosure that's made available is even more fulsome than what is contemplated by this bill.

Fundamentally, the remarks I want to make, really though, are focused on the process that we are in in terms of developing that -- in terms of developing those regulations. It's a collaborative process with the Indigenous governments. ITI has been going through the legislative -- this legislative protocol process with Intergovernmental Council. It is -- we were the first department out of the gate to have the opportunity to utilize that process. And it's been time consuming because it's new. And it was new for everyone. It was new for us. It was new for Indigenous governments. And to do it right certainly has taken some time, and the inability to meet in person during COVID certainly did not help in expediting that work as we were trying to get the process moving and to have these meetings collaborative -- having collaborative meetings, which really did require in-person meetings. So it has taken longer than I would have hoped. And it is frustrating for all involved, and I appreciate it's been frustrating for people who have been waiting for it. And I know the MLA who sponsored this bill was deeply involved in the Mineral Resources Act last Assembly and was -- and had a very keen interest in this work in this Assembly.

I recognize also the comments around, you know, what the schedule, what the plan, what's coming next. Again, there's been some disruption over this summer obviously as to the ability to attend here and put information out. I think the Member only quite recently has seen that we do have a very comprehensive status update coming out -- it will be tabled in this House -- that does give a very good sense of exactly where we are at, all of the work that has been done, and what is coming next. And, indeed, one of the things that is, indeed, coming next is the discussion of royalties, which includes the opportunity for industry to meet with us, for us, first of all, to meet with Indigenous governments through the process to ensure that as the regs are developed that they are developed in a way for royalties that will allow as much transparency as possible. So that's the duplicative nature here to me is really do we wait for a process that has been underway now for some time that is deeply involving the Intergovernmental Council that has now worked out how that Intergovernmental Council work would be done and allow that to run its course or carve out this one issue and have a side piece of legislation. So I am asking people to let us keep doing the work we're doing.

As to the Petroleum Resources Act, just a note, the Mineral Resources Act is the priority. There's not a whole lot happening right now under the Petroleum Resources Act. But ultimately, the process for updating that will also go through the Intergovernmental Council legislative process. So in due course, that will also come to.

But, really, the -- I want to emphasize the concerns that are being raised by -- and that are being sought to be amended or fixed, the departments and the Intergovernmental Council technical working group who are involved, they're well aware of the desire for more information, the desire to see some sort of change and some sort of greater access to information but, again, it's the idea of letting that process work its way through. As I said, there's actually a chance that the disclosure may be more broad than what's actually contemplated in the bill that's before the House right now. I can't say for sure. What I want to say is, you know -- and even I'll go so far as to say in the discussions that have been had to date with industry, they know there's some change coming. And I don't even know that there's any reluctance to see the change. The desires for that change to happen systemically, for it to happen as part of a total package, for it to happen as part of the process that we've been working through for quite some time now.

Although of note that I will say other jurisdictions that have amended their legislation in this space have taken years as well. So while this is slower than what I would have hoped, it's not necessarily slower than what it might have been anywhere else. And our process is one that will produce, I think, a better piece of legislation and one that the territories can ultimately be proud of. It's going to give us the ability to say that we have something distinct, unique, involving those who are traditional holders of the lands and all levels of government. So that work is important.

And, again, I do -- I'm asking for that time for that work to be continued and to be concluded. We are committed to a process that is thorough and respectful of the legislative process. There's again some disagreement as to whether or not one can go into a discussion of royalties without sharing the individual royalties of an individual mine. I'm not sure that we will ever see eye to eye on this one, the Member and myself, because there's a lot of work that's happening right now that. That is the stage that we're at is to try to be at a place where we can model mines. And in my view it is not necessary to model a mine that was built and developed under an old regime in order to develop whether or not -- or to decide whether or not a new regime is actually better or more appropriate for the circumstances of the North, and therefore having the individual royalties paid ten years ago, or five years ago, or three years ago doesn't necessarily undermine any of the work to be done modeling a theoretical mine that would happen under the new regime of the Northwest Territories or in the current climate or market of the Northwest Territories mineral resource industry.

So, again, is this -- is the information contemplated here, in fact, even necessary? And, again, arguably, I'd suggest it's not to the extent that it's of interest to the sector and of interest to the territory, of interest to legislators, to Indigenous governments, again, the process we are in right now is seeking to find a path for greater transparency and information.

A side example, if you will, we are looking at a process by which Indigenous governments are going to be notified when people are looking to have mineral resource claims on their traditional territories or on their modern treaty land holds. So that is something that we're already doing in the Northwest Territories that is different from elsewhere. That sort of process of what that will look like, the timing, how long we might need to be able to respond, that has been worked through with the IGC. Disclosure of royalties information should go through that same process. What kinds of information will be beneficial, what kinds of information will add meaningfully to the conversation, and what should be protected so that we have a sector that feels that this is still a place to invest and that is respectful of their business decisions.

So I know I'm running low on time, Madam Chair. It's taking me longer than I expected. I suppose my last comment here is really I want to just note -- I want to thank the Member for raising the issue repeatedly. I do -- I do think it's important when governments and when government officials hear something enough, it does not go away. It doesn't get lost. It's very difficult in my view to walk away from an issue that gets this kind of attention. Even if the current bill does not pass, it would be very difficult to pretend that the issue wasn't made deeply clear, deeply abundant, and obviously some Members may vote for it and some Members may vote against, but there's clearly been enough interest in this that I would think any future government would be remiss to not take that under consideration as they develop the final regulations that are yet to come and that I hope will be coming soon. Thank you, Madam Chair.

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The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Member for Thebacha.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

September 27th

Page 6455

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Madam Chair. I will not be supporting the bill because I'm very pro-business. And I know that there has to be processes in place, and I know that the Indigenous government should be part of that process. I very much -- I have a lot of people who are employed at the mine. We have a large apprenticeship sector in Fort Smith. And I know there has to be more transparency and hopefully after the next election, we will get through some of these other outstanding issues, but I'm very much about making sure that we are open for business and always have been. I -- I'm happy that our colleague has named some of these things in his bill, but I just want to make sure that I've always been -- you've always known where I stand. And I'm very -- I can't change what I believe in because business has been part of my life, and I know that some of the information -- I don't think we're going to share all the information that was given by one of my colleagues that gave the submission but I know all we wanted to know is, I guess, just how -- you know, we -- a lot goes out of the territory. It's concerning sometimes, especially to Indigenous groups, and not shared enough with all people in the territories and mostly anything that's given, it's usually just if they're given donations or anything, it's always seems to be the capital. That's usual. And Peter always reminds me, my husband, that it is the capital, he says. You know, so he's on everybody's side here. But I have to share that with you because we have this little argument every now and then. But I'm very pro-business, and I would not have anybody go -- I wouldn't want everybody to go through my financial stuff. And at some point, you know, it's a big investment. When they come up here to open a mine and the employment that comes with it and the benefits to the community and we don't -- where we don't get IBAs in Fort Smith just because of where we are. But a lot of our people work there because we have the college, because we have the headquarters of the college. Got to remind that to the Minister of education. And I just want to make sure that I will not be supporting this bill. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

September 27th

Page 6455

The Chair

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Member for Nunakput.