The Premier of the Northwest Territories, Floyd K. Roland, provided NWT residents with an update on the progress that the Government of the Northwest Territories has made on devolution in the recent months.
Mr. Speaker, the Devolution of decision-making authorities over public lands and water from Canada to the Northwest Territories has been a matter of debate and negotiation for much of my lifetime.
Our strong belief is that NWT residents must have the capacity and authority to protect and manage public lands in the Northwest Territories; to ensure that our Territory’s abundant resources are developed in a sustainable and responsible manner; and that NWT residents realize the financial and economic benefits from development in their Territory.
This Government has worked to put in place resources, tools and processes to prepare and advance our government, our people and our Territory to the point where we now have a Devolution and Resource Revenue Sharing Agreement-in-Principle within our reach.
On Friday, It was reported in the media that the Chief Negotiators for Canada and the Northwest Territories have initialled a draft AiP, and recommended it to their principals. Regional Aboriginal Governments have been invited and supported to participate in the negotiations leading up to this draft AiP.
The draft AiP is a substantial document, and our negotiators have provided until October 31st for all parties to consider the Agreement and determine whether they want to proceed as signatories.
In the meantime, I would like to provide NWT residents with an update on the progress that we have made on this file in recent months.
Mr. Speaker, early in this Government I suggested that Devolution could be put on the “back burner” if we could not find enough common interest to continue negotiations.
We found this common purpose at our Regional Aboriginal Leaders Table.
An inclusive negotiations process has progressed over the last two years, involving representatives from all regional Aboriginal Governments, as well as the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories.
We have actively worked in this forum towards a Devolution and resource Revenue Sharing Agreement that is in the interest of all NWT residents.
In September, a draft Agreement-in-Principle was brought forward by our Chief Negotiators built on an Agreement presented jointly to Canada in 2007 by the GNWT and four of our Territory’s Aboriginal governments.
While the draft AiP is not binding, it provides the necessary parameters for negotiations leading to a final agreement on Devolution, and, at long last, the transfer of authority over public lands and water in the NWT.
Mr. Speaker, I have said all along that without Devolution, our future remains more of the same – remaining dependent on Ottawa to make the major decisions about resource development in our Territory, while watching the revenues from that development continue to flow south.
We have waited a long time to consider this critical step in our political development. We are at a sensitive and critical juncture in this process.
Regional Aboriginal Governments are determining their participation in the draft AiP. Members of this House are being briefed. It is important that all of us understand the magnitude and positive potential of this draft AiP.
In the weeks ahead, this Government will provide more information on the AiP and its provisions. However, while the draft is under consideration by the parties, I ask that we all respect and support the established process.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302