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Crucial Fact

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

Question 714-18(3): Climate Change Action Plan May 24th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Taltson project is important for many reasons and, as the Member knows, we received considerable support from the federal government to help with the development of this project and the overall business case. As we told the Prime Minister, we want to be part of the overall solution in dealing with climate change. I think that the federal government recognizes, as does our government, the potential of the project as part of the overall climate change efforts.

The reality is that remote mines make up 50 percent of our emissions profile and need to be part of the solution now and in the future. Taltson is best positioned to reduce industrial emissions and stabilize the costs of energy, north and south of Great Slave Lake. If the project proceeds, we can certainly achieve our greenhouse gas emission targets and provide clean energy to resource development for the next 50 years. This is a major project, however, and we are in the early stages. The Minister of Infrastructure is leading the development of the business case, and several discussions have already taken place with the Canada Infrastructure Bank. I think that it is fair to say that they have considerable interest. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery May 24th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to recognize two constituents from Yellowknife South, Jan Inman and Tenisha McMullen. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 703-18(3): Arctic Sovereignty May 23rd, 2019

Yes, we are committed to holding Cabinet open houses in each riding, and we will work with the Member to ensure these take place before the end of the 18th Assembly. I would be pleased to have all three levels of government present in his riding if the Member for Nunakput would like to invite the Member of Parliament and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation into his riding at the same time as the Cabinet open house. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 703-18(3): Arctic Sovereignty May 23rd, 2019

As the Member noted in his statement, the Arctic has been home to Indigenous people long before it was ever traversed by European explorers. The people of the Canadian Arctic are Canada's Arctic sovereignty. Therefore, the work of Indigenous governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories is supporting sovereignty on a daily basis. By working to keep the Indigenous cultures and languages of the territory vibrant, we are demonstrating sovereignty. We also demonstrate sovereignty by work to strengthen communities, build wellness, and create opportunities for prosperity. As the climatic and geopolitical realities in the Arctic continue to shift, it is the federal government that now must step up to the plate and work with the people of the Northwest Territories.

Question 703-18(3): Arctic Sovereignty May 23rd, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Member has raised and I spoke to in my statement, Canada needs to take action in the Arctic, and our governments and people lead this dialogue. The best way for Canada to show its commitment to its Arctic is through significant investment in its people, economies, science, and infrastructure. I have been clear to the federal government about the need for this investment. I have been clear that northern voices need to be heard. I have also specifically spoken to the need for investment in support of the safety and security of our borders and people.

I am pleased to say that we've had some positive signals from Canada in this area, in particular related to investments and infrastructure and cleaner and more affordable energy for the territory, and in the development and moving forward with Bill C-88 and negotiations related to the offshore.

There's also been the creation of an Arctic region for the Coast Guard. However, as I made clear in my statement today, there is need to do much more.

Minister's Statement 178-18(3): Sessional Statement May 23rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome all Members back to the continuation of the third session of the 18th Legislative Assembly. As we near the end of our term, our government continues to focus on advancing the priorities of the Assembly and fulfilling remaining mandate items. These are intended to help create a better future for all residents of the Northwest Territories, including the advancement of outstanding claims and self-government negotiations.

For almost four years, Mr. Speaker, our government has put a great deal of effort into raising the profile of the Northwest Territories at the national level. Our territory does not exist in isolation, and the choices and decisions of other governments in neighbouring provinces and territories, and at the federal level, can have a significant impact on what happens here at home.

Last week I was in Ottawa with Tlicho Grand Chief George Mackenzie to appear before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in support of Bill C-88. This bill seeks to advance numerous amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. These were first passed as part of the federal legislation that established devolution and include the continuation of regional land and water boards as established in the land claims.

Passage of this bill will help ensure our residents have the tools and legislative authority needed to effectively make decisions about responsible resource development and increase certainty. Coming together to speak up on behalf of the Northwest Territories when important decisions like this are pending is one way we are having a real impact on national affairs.

We have been successful at putting the Northwest Territories on the national agenda and leveraging that attention for investments in territorial priorities throughout the term of this Assembly. Most recently, that has included commitments in the last federal budget to invest $18 million over three years in the Taltson Hydro Expansion project and $5.1 million for planning and surveys to support the development of the Slave Geological Province Corridor.

Effective cooperation and partnerships with our provincial and territorial counterparts has been another important part of how we have placed, and kept, the North on the national agenda. My colleagues on the Council of Federation were particularly effective, for instance, in helping secure special recognition for the unique challenges that the three northern territories face as part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

While we have achieved a lot, we cannot take our achievements for granted. Recent months have seen significant turnover among Premiers across the country, and we are all aware that there is a federal election this fall.

In this climate of change, it will be more important than ever to educate and engage governments at all levels so we can ensure the North continues to be a priority on the national agenda.

Our efforts should not end there. We also need to start thinking globally, not just nationally.

The Arctic has always been an important symbol for Canada, a geographic statement of our place and status in the world as a northern power. Unfortunately, Canada's interest in and attention to the Arctic has often been symbolic at best. Generations of southern Canadians and their governments have grown used to thinking of the North as a vast and inaccessible place valued most for its emptiness. This, however, is not a view of the Arctic shared by other nations.

In recent years, I have spent a great deal of time making connections with other leaders and promoting the Northwest Territories. I can tell you from the conversations that I have been having that interest in the North, in the Arctic, is immense.

Canada is alone when it comes to inaction in the Arctic. China and Russia, for instance, see enormous opportunity in the Arctic. They are moving fast to ramp up their presence and level of activity within their borders and across the circumpolar world. This is an effort to both secure opportunities for themselves and to influence the international rules and policies that will set the terms for what happens in the Arctic.

Russia sees the Northern Sea Route as an essential maritime opening for its country. Russia has a fleet of 20 icebreakers capable of traversing the Northern Sea Route; more than a dozen ports, including two deep water ports in their Arctic; and have committed to increasing investments to attract more shipping traffic through the Northern Sea Route.

China released a whitepaper on its Arctic strategy last year, is investing heavily in infrastructure around the world, and certainly has its eye on Arctic shipping and research. They were recently in discussions with Greenland about investing in three airport projects and have their own nuclear icebreaker under construction. They have one polar research vessel in service and a second one expected to enter service this year.

Despite the 1998 agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Arctic Cooperation, the United States has started to renew assertions that the Northwest Passage is an international waterway, rather than internal Canadian waters. New legislation proposed by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Arctic Policy Act and the Shipping and Environmental Leadership Act, may be seen as a renewed will in the United States to set the terms for the Arctic.

Mr. Speaker, in the face of this international activity, I think it only makes sense to ask: where is Canada? Does Canada want to remain a leader in the Arctic? What is Canada's vision for the Arctic? What is Canada prepared to do to make sure it has a real say in setting the terms of engagement for all nations?

I also think it makes sense that residents of Canada's three northern territories have a leading say in determining Canada's plan for the Arctic. We are the ones who live here. We are the ones who are repeatedly affected when decisions are made for us, rather than with us. We are an obvious partner for Canada when they begin to discuss what should happen next.

As international interest and activity in the Arctic accelerates, it is important that Canada is not left behind. There are some clear areas where Canada can concentrate its focus and attention. Positioning Canada's northern territories as a hub for trade and transportation is one of these.

The circumpolar route can cut as much as 20 days off the time it takes to reach Asia from Europe via ship. Other countries know this, and they have already been making moves to secure control over these routes, both through their active use and by advancing claims over their status as national or international channels.

Canada's North is closer to key markets in all the major global trading blocs, including Europe, Asia, and Russia, than most other regions of North America. It would be a shorter trip from Yellowknife to Moscow than it would be from Toronto. We are also closer to European centres like Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Helsinki.

Heading east, a 10,000-kilometer-plus trip from Toronto to Tokyo or Beijing would be less than 8,000 kilometers from Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, Canada should be leveraging this comparative proximity to these international markets and investing significantly in transportation infrastructure in all three northern territories. Growing and expanding territorial airports can make them a major trans-shipment point for goods moving between Asia, North America, and Europe, especially if there is supporting investment in connecting infrastructure like roads and railways linking us to southern Canada.

Similarly, investments in deepwater ports and marine facilities along Canada's Arctic coast can help to capture trade already travelling the polar route, which is sure to increase in coming years, as well as tourist and scientific traffic that is also sure to grow.

Another area Canada will need to look at as it considers what it wants to achieve in the Arctic in coming years is its physical presence. Simply put, Canada needs to be in the Arctic if it wants to have a say in what happens in the Arctic.

Economies are driven and sustained by people, and Canada is very much lagging in this regard. It is hard to achieve the economies of scale that can truly drive growth and prosperity when our population is a sliver of the population in the rest of the circumpolar world.

Our small population also limits our ability to effectively monitor activity in the Arctic. How effectively can Canada monitor the Arctic coastline and shipping passages with only a single Coast Guard station in Iqaluit, and search and rescue resources located at southern military bases?

How long will it take Canada to even learn of a maritime or environmental incident, and then effectively respond to and manage it? What effect would such a delay have on the Arctic, its people, and its environment?

Finally, Canada needs to know the Arctic, Mr. Speaker, not just know about it, if it wants to have a meaningful say in decisions about the Arctic in coming decades.

As a northern nation, Canada should make it a priority to ensure that more of its citizens have an opportunity to experience the Arctic and learn what it really means to be "northern." Policy and decision makers need to have experience in and understand the territories, where they can gain the direct, first-hand knowledge and experience to make good evidence-based decisions.

Knowing the Arctic also means significantly ramping up Canada's scientific research capacity and Arctic academic infrastructure. If Canada wants to understand how climate change affects the North and how to adapt to it, we need significant investment in scientific research programs and facilities to support that. If we want thriving territorial economies, it also makes sense to educate the next generation of business and civic leaders here, including professionals like doctors and lawyers who will support communities.

Mr. Speaker, we must lead the conversation to determine what Canada wants for the Arctic. We must also lead the conversations about establishing and implementing Canada's Arctic priorities. As the world's attention continues to shift towards the actions and politics of the circumpolar north, Canada's need for a meaningful Arctic plan is only going to become more important. With the Arctic figuring ever more prominently in the plans of other global powers, we need to know that Canada has a plan. Territorial residents will need to be confident that their priorities are found in this plan and that it will benefit them.

Northerners setting the terms for the North has been a significant priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories for years. Devolution was all about Northerners being able to make their own decisions about how the land, environment, and resources of the Northwest Territories are managed.

Mr. Speaker, our government continues to pursue this priority in the 18th Legislative Assembly, with a number of proposed bills that improve on the legislative authorities for managing land and resources that were transferred from Canada at the time of devolution. These include the Mineral Resources Act, Environmental Rights Act, Protected Areas Act, Public Lands Act, Petroleum Resources Act, Oil and Gas Operations Act, and Environmental Rights Act.

Defining the future of the Arctic and Canada's three northern territories will require a bold vision and an ambitious plan. Mr. Speaker, Northerners need to have a role in shaping that plan. The upcoming federal and territorial elections provide us with an opportunity to continue a broad conversation about the long-term future of the North. This work to advocate for the people of the territory will build on what we have achieved during the life of this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to continuing that advocacy and to working with all Members in our remaining months here to help make the North a priority for Canada. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 177-18(3): Minister Absent from the House May 23rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have two Minister's statements, one short and one longer.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Glen Abernethy will be absent from the House today to attend the Seniors' FPT meetings in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 683-18(3): Northwest Territories Water Licenses March 12th, 2019

Right now, only Canada can provide policy direction to the boards, but I can say that the Minister responsible for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has agreed to start discussions for the devolution of the MVRMA processes. As you may recall, there was a five-year provision to wait to begin the review, and he has indicated he is prepared to start that review right away. Independent regional land and water boards are responsible to administer processes for both type A and type B water licence applications. Maximum timelines for water licence processes already exist under the legislation. Rules or procedures have been established by land and water boards. The Government of the Northwest Territories is a strong supporter of efficient and effective resource-management decisions. We will provide the feedback to the boards on recent process. However, it is within their authority to define their process and procedures. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 683-18(3): Northwest Territories Water Licenses March 12th, 2019

The Government of the Northwest Territories works closely with regional land and water boards on information guidelines relevant to water licensing and land-use permitting processes. Guidelines exist with respect to completing water licence applications in the Mackenzie Valley. The Government of the Northwest Territories will provide feedback to the boards on recent process and any improvements that can provide efficiencies in process.

Question 683-18(3): Northwest Territories Water Licenses March 12th, 2019

We are not currently considering revising the requirement for a type B water licence for the use of over 100 cubic metres of water per day. It is my understanding that this volume is consistent with other northern jurisdictions. In the Yukon, the 300 cubic metres is a threshold specifically related to type B licences for placer and quartz mining. All other mining has a threshold of 100 cubic metres for a type B water licence. In Nunavut, anything between 50 and 300 cubic metres requires a type B licence.