Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our GSOs are there to provide services to community members who need it, in whatever capacity, if they are having problems connecting with federal programs. Generally, our GSOs are aware of it, and they try to take steps so that we can improve the connectivity. As well, we all know how difficult it is to access federal programs. If you want to talk to somebody at the CRA, you've got to phone, wait on the line for 10, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and then it will cut you off automatically because that's the way their programs are designed. It is very difficult to get through. You've got to spend a lot of time, and then we complain about it. I guess the best example is where everybody was getting audited on an annual basis for filing and claiming VTA travel, and we complain about it, and they check it out, and it was true. We were being audited a lot more than the rest of Canada. CRA took steps to set up headquarters in each of the three northern territories. We work with them. We don't have all the detailed information, but we are aware of most of the concerns.
In the Legislative Assembly
- His favourite word was federal.
Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Yellowknife South
Won his last election, in 2015, with 70% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 22nd, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to recognize a constituent of Yellowknife South, Yolanda Chapman. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the 18th Legislative Assembly has made it a priority to strengthen relationships with Northwest Territories Indigenous governments. We have focused on fostering government-to-government relationships and advancing, finalizing, and implementing land, resource, and self-government agreements. Together we have charted a vision for the economic future of the Northwest Territories, and we have come together to make the case for greater investment and decision-making in our territory.
Our government understands that strong relationships are built on the principles of respect, recognition, and shared responsibility. With this foundation, the Government of the Northwest Territories and NWT Indigenous governments can advance our shared goal of a strong and sustainable future. This includes concluding agreements in order to bring increased certainty to land and resource management in the Northwest Territories and economic opportunities for communities and regions.
In support of this strong and prosperous vision of the Northwest Territories, I am pleased to report that the Government of the Northwest Territories currently has nine signed intergovernmental memorandums of understanding with Indigenous governments, with the most recent signed on June 7th with the Deline Got'ine Government. This collaboration also takes place at the intergovernmental council, where we are working together to promote the harmonization of legislation, policy, and program areas of common interest related to lands and resource management.
Significant collaboration has occurred during the life of this Legislative Assembly, made possible through the Devolution Agreement and the willingness of the Government of the Northwest Territories and Indigenous governments to work together on a government-to-government basis.
Mr. Speaker, this type of collaboration and coordination on lands, resources, and water management is becoming standard operating process amongst our governments and identifying more "made-in-the-North" solutions. We have also made good progress in the finalization of land, resources, and self-government agreements. The Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells have reached a self-government agreement-in-principle. Significant progress has been made towards the conclusion of a consultation draft of the Inuvialuit Self-Government Final Agreement. We are also optimistic about the prospect of being able to conclude negotiations on a draft of a land, resource, and self-government agreement-in-principle with the Akaitcho Dene First Nations in the near future.
Meeting treaty obligations and honouring the spirit and intent of settled agreements is not only a legal obligation, but also an important part of our overall relationship with Indigenous governments. This work requires a shared commitment by all involved, and implementation committees are an important part of how we advance this work together.
Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories participates in five implementation committees that oversee the implementation of both land claims and self-government agreements.
Capturing the progress on implementation efforts helps advance future work and is the reason that Implementation Committees publish annual or comprehensive reports on their efforts. Later today, at the appropriate time, I will be tabling reports from the territory's five Implementation Committees. I am pleased to note that, for the first time ever, several of these reports have been translated and published in Indigenous languages. Language is an important part of the cultural identity, and I am hopeful to see this trend continue.
Implementing agreements in an evolving landscape of reconciliation and indigenous governance requires the Government of the Northwest Territories to be adaptable and open to change. This is the reason that the Government of the Northwest Territories is also working with its treaty partners on new and reasonable approaches to better support the implementation of the spirit and intent of previously signed agreements.
Experience has shown that we are stronger and more successful when we work together as partners, and this government remains committed to working with Canada and Indigenous governments throughout the negotiation and implementation of agreements.
Partnership and mutual respect has been the key to success for our territory and has resulted in positive outcomes. The foundation for working together has been nurtured and strengthened by the 18th Legislative Assembly, and this work will continue to advance shared territorial social, environmental, and economic priorities for years to come. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 21st, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to recognize a constituent of Yellowknife South, Caroline Wawzonek. Caroline has indicated that she will be a candidate in the upcoming election in the riding of Yellowknife South. I wish her every success. Thank you.
Minister's Statement 237-18(3): Minister Late August 21st, 2019
Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the honourable Robert C. McLeod will be late arriving in the House today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table to following document entitled "Toward a Plan - Strengthening Canada's Position in the Arctic." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery (reversion) August 20th, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, Members. I am pleased to recognize my wife, Melody, of 45 years; my grandson Carter McLeod, who has to leave tomorrow to go to Moose Jaw to play some hockey; and my youngest grandson, Cooper McLeod, who is here to watch the proceedings and learn about some politics. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I am seeking unanimous consent to go back to item 6, recognition of visitors in the gallery, please.
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 20th, 2019
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to recognize a resident of Yellowknife South, Gaeleen MacPherson. Gaeleen just announced that she will be a candidate in the Yellowknife South riding. I wish her every success, Mr. Speaker.
Minister's Statement 233-18(3): Strengthening the Arctic August 20th, 2019
Mr. Speaker, international interest in the North has been increasing steadily over the past few years. As the effects of climate change increase access to the Arctic, the global geopolitical context for the region is changing.
With enormous untapped opportunities for shipping, research, and resource development, many countries are looking to influence the development of policies and international agreements that will benefit them and their interests in the region. Global powers like China, Russia, and the United States are deliberately ramping up their presence and level of activity within their own borders and across the circumpolar world in an effort to secure and further their national priorities.
Of particular interest to these nations is the potential for new and shorter shipping routes through the Arctic Ocean. There is also distinct interest in the resource potential of the Arctic as changing sea ice and climatic conditions make previously stranded resources more accessible.
Other countries are investing heavily in infrastructure, developing national plans, and trying to influence international policies in anticipation of new opportunities in the Arctic so they can better pursue their national interests. Canada, so far, has not kept pace with its own efforts to establish its role or interests in the Arctic, let alone ensure that the people of the Arctic have the same or even a similar quality of life as southern Canadians.
For its part, Canada has interests in the Arctic beyond simple geographic sovereignty, even if, as a nation, we are not entirely clear about them. Resource potential is maybe the most obvious one. We already know there are substantial reserves of onshore and offshore oil and gas in the region that are not being developed. These reserves are only going to become more strategically significant as China, for one, continues to look to lock in secure energy forces to fuel its economic growth.
We are also home to many of the minerals that will fuel the global green economy, including cobalt, gold, lithium, bismuth, and rare earth elements. The makers of batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, hand-held electronics, and computers rely on these minerals to make their products more efficient.
The North also has significant potential as a hub for international trade and transportation. The polar route can cut as much as 20 days off the time it takes to reach Asia from Europe, and airports in the territories are closer to Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, and other European capitals than southern cities.
As a nation, Canada should be looking to capitalize on these advantages and start capitalizing on the opportunity to capture a piece of the global trade that is currently passing through our airspace and waters. These investments, if made strategically with proper consultation, consideration, and decision-making with Indigenous, territorial, and federal governments at the helm will be instrumental in bringing prosperity and jobs to our communities. They are opportunities to grow local and regional economies, build wellness, and shape the future of Canada from the Northwest Territories.
While the case for northern development might be clear to us here in the Northwest Territories, we are competing with a lot of other priorities on the national stage, and we need to make sure we are doing our part to promote our interests in southern Canada.
While Canada likes to think of itself as a northern country, Mr. Speaker, the North continues to be a bit of a mystery to many Canadians. Educating them and their leaders about the realities of the North, the people who live here, and our needs and priorities is an important part of generating support for national action to strengthen Canada's position in the Arctic. That is why I have been calling for the creation of a national plan for strengthening Canada's position in the Arctic in my meetings with my fellow Premiers. I have also been taking my message to the public and to influential academics and policy makers who are involved in thinking about the Arctic.
As part of these efforts, the Government of the Northwest Territories co-hosted a national mini-conference on this topic with the Institute for 21st Century Questions in Toronto. Speakers at the conference included Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, former Quebec Premier and federal Cabinet Minister Jean Charest, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence Peter Mackay, and former federal Member of Parliament Martha Hall-Findlay, as well as a number of leading academics. Attendees included a number of other political figures, business leaders, senior government officials, and academics. Later today, at the appropriate time, I will table a copy of remarks made by me and by Premier Savikataaq at the event.
The feedback I have been getting nationally, Mr. Speaker, has been positive. My fellow Premiers and others I have been talking to in the South are very interested in the potential of the North and agree that Canada needs a plan.
Turning the massive potential of the North into sustainable northern communities and jobs and opportunities for ourselves and all Canadians will take determination, commitment, and significant investment in nation-building projects. As Northerners, we need to keep the discussion going, Mr. Speaker, and do our part to make sure that our territories and our people are the beneficiaries of the new international interest in the Arctic. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.