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Lands and Environment

CAMERON – When is a Government not a Government?

Yukon First Nation Chiefs met with the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs this week in Ottawa.  They discussed with the Minister their concerns with Bill S-6, legislation that will change a number of critical sections of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA).  This Act is one of the comprehensive pieces of federal legislation necessary to implement chapters of the Treaties agreed to in the 1990s between the majority of Yukon First Nation governments and the two public governments, Canada and Yukon.
 
These Treaties are a big deal; they are recognized and protected as an expression of Aboriginal rights through s. 35 of the Constitution of Canada, the supreme law of our land.  YESAA gives presence and authority to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, one of the co-management bodies that were agreed to in the Treaties. The Board conducts assessments on all lands in Yukon, First Nation, Crown and even lands within municipalities.
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Federal government appoints chief negotiator for Nunavut devolution

The Hon. John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, has announced the appointment of Mr. Dale Drown as Chief Federal Negotiator for Nunavut Devolution. Mr. Drown will work with the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and other stakeholders to develop options for proceeding with the devolution of authority for land and resource management to the Government of Nunavut.
 
In the Department’s press release, Minister Duncan stated:

Together with the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and key stakeholders, we are working to build a future in which the people of Nunavut are more self-sufficient and prosperous, making their own decisions, managing their own affairs and making strong contributions to the country as a whole.

Mr. Drown’s mandate will involve identifying the steps required “to advance negotiations and to examine how land and resource management capacity can be improved in Nunavut.”
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Government taking irrational approach to Northern Gateway, Berger says

Justice Thomas Berger spoke with CBC Vancouver’s The Early Edition yesterday about the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, and the ongoing debate over the Northern Gateway project in northern British Columbia. His comments were repeated on CBC’s As it Happens. You can hear an excerpt from the interview here.
 
Berger spoke about the virtues of the environmental impact assessment process and his inquiry in the mid-1970s, saying:

If you consult everybody–and that was the first time this had ever been done–you get better projects. Conforming to what the people who live there believe is in their interest, helping to protect the environment, and in the end working out to the advantage of industry…Thirty-five years ago, when my report was published, people were interested all over the country. It was the single largest selling publication of the Government of Canada. People were involved, they were engaged, and they trusted the process.

And he provided this assessment of the current government and its approach to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project:
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Isuma launch boosts debate about Mary River project

IsumaTV is harnessing the power of new media to improve Inuit decision-making about Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s Mary River Project. Tonight, Isuma launches Nipivut Nunatinnii (“Our Voice at Home”), a new radio series broadcasting on community radio stations across Nunavut’s Qikiqtani Region. The series will examine the Mary River project, the environmental assessment that is currently underway, and the human rights implications for Inuit.
 
You can listen to the live broadcast tonight at 8 pm EDT here.
 
The radio series is part of Isuma’s Digital Indigenous Democracy (DID) project, which seeks to adapt new media technology to link Qikiqtani communities together to support Inuit decision-making practices:

Through centuries of experience Inuit learned that deciding together, called angjqatigiingniq [ahng-ee-kha-te-GING-nik] in Inuktitut – a complex set of diplomatic skills for respectful listening to differing opinions until arriving at one unified decision everyone can support – is the smartest, safest way to go forward in a dangerous environment. Through DID, Inuit adapt deciding together to modern transnational development – to get needed information in language they understand, talk about their concerns publicly and reach collective decisions with the power of consensus.

According to Isuma, support for traditional decision-making is critical for Inuit communities faced with the development of the Mary River project, one of the largest mining projects in Canadian history:

[The Mary River project] is a $6 billion open-pit extraction of nine major deposits of extremely high-grade iron ore that, if fully exploited, could continue for 100 years. The mining site, in the center of north Baffin Island about half-way between Inuit communities of Pond Inlet and Igloolik, requires a 150 km railroad built across frozen tundra to transport ore to a deep-water port where the world’s largest supertankers will carry it to European and Asian markets.

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Irlbacher-Fox: Gahcho Kué Economic Impacts and NWT Devolution

 

Our NWT political correspondent, Dr. Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, on devolution in the NWT, the Gacho Kué Impact Review Panel, and its economic impacts.

 

The Mise En Scene

On May 01, 2012, the GNWT tabled a report to the Gahcho Kué Environmental Impact Review Panel entitled, Evaluation of the Economic Impacts of the Gahcho Kué Diamond Project. The report

focus is on the implications for gross domestic product (GDP), income, employment and government revenues in the NWT and Canada as a whole. This analysis measures the impacts on these variables and, unlike cost benefit analysis for example, does not address efficiency issues. (Page 2)

The report then goes on to list various economic statistics. They are pretty confusing, and if you are not an economist it is a bit of a slog having to look up different economic terms of art. The upshot of the report though is this:

the diamond mine will have a significant economic impact. Over the life of the mine, hundreds of jobs will be created, about $4 billion will be added to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to the report: “In the NWT, the total GDP impact would be about $150 million and 760 jobs would be created for NWT residents. About 85% of those jobs would be generated in the main construction years of 2015 and 2016 creating about 325 jobs per year. Given recent NWT employment levels, this would represent about a 1.5% increase in overall employment. (Page 5)

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