Premier’s Statement – NWT Days in Ottawa

Feb 8 2013

Premier Bob McLeodMr. Speaker, last week I was honoured to represent the people and the potential of the Northwest Territories on the national stage at NWT Days.  Since becoming Premier I have often said wouldn’t it be great if we could all go to Ottawa together, and Mr. Speaker, I can say with complete confidence, it was great.  The Government of the Northwest Territories strengthened our presence in the nation’s capital and provided an opportunity to focus Canada’s attention on our priorities, potential and vision for the future.

The Government of the Northwest Territories Cabinet, eight Members of the Legislative Assembly, Aboriginal Government Leaders, and representatives of industry in the Northwest Territories made up the NWT Days delegation.  This group of northerners helped us communicate the Northwest Territorities priorities and challenges to the federal government and key stakeholders.  

Meetings with the federal government on priority files were essential to the success of NWT Days.  I had a very productive meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the importance of concluding a devolution agreement with Canada within the agreed-to time frames, the commitment of the Government of the Northwest Territories to the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, and the economic potential of the Mackenzie Valley fibre optic link project.  I was also able to discuss these matters with Minister Aglukkaq, along with the Government of the Northwest Territories active interest in the Arctic Council file.  I had the opportunity to meet with Minister Duncan who reiterated his commitment to the completion of devolution negotiations between our two governments.

Government of the Northwest Territories Cabinet Ministers met with senior Federal Ministers to discuss a number of key priorities of this Assembly related to infrastructure, hydro and economic development. As a Cabinet it was critical that our Ministers had the opportunity to meet with their Federal counterparts on these key priorities. We were able to have productive discussions with Ministers Aglukkaq, Kent, Ashfield, Lebel, Toews, Finley, Nicholson and Menzies who reiterated their commitment to working with the Government of the Northwest Territories on our shared priorities.

Members of Cabinet, along with Members of the Legislative Assembly, Aboriginal Government Leaders and industry representatives also met with key committees of both the House of Commons and the Senate, as well as some of our nation’s foremost public policy think tanks.

The delegation visited the House of Commons during Question Period, where we were recognized by the Speaker, and where Northwest Territories issues such as devolution, and our leadership role in biomass, solar and water stewardship were raised on the floor.

Mr. Speaker, whether it was meetings with senior Federal Ministers, being recognized in the House of Commons or hosting two filled-to-capacity receptions for influential decision makers in Ottawa, NWT Days was a resounding success. 

We also took the opportunity to highlight the Northwest Territories culture and tourism potential during Winterlude.  It is estimated that eight thousand people visited the Winterlude pavilion, where the Northwest Territories had a display throughout the weekend.  Interactive display screens gave people the opportunity to access images and information about all regions of the Northwest Territories. This interactive technology is a legacy investment that Government of the Northwest Territories departments will be able to use in a variety of places, including airports, visitors’ centres and schools for many years to come.

To ensure our message had maximum impact, we reached out to the news media, conducting several interviews with national network flagship programs as well as national and international print media.  We went to Ottawa with the intention of creating a buzz and raising the profile of the Northwest Territories and the interests of its residents, and I believe we accomplished this.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all the members of the Northwest Territories delegation.  In particular, I would like to thank the Members of the Legislative Assembly, Aboriginal Government Leaders and industry representatives.  One of the things we heard when we were in Ottawa is how unique it is for a government to bring a delegation with participants from a variety of organizations.  Much of the positive impact of NWT Days came from the members of the delegation, who fulfill a wide range of roles in the Northwest Territories and who have similar priorities and concerns, and shared these with the federal government and opinion leaders to help see the Northwest Territories fulfill its potential. Of course none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Departmental officials with Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations and Industry, Tourism and Investment. As well we appreciate the hard work of NWT Tourism in assisting with the Spectacular NWT portion of NWT Days.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories knows the value of good relationships and we have made it a priority to reach out across governments and across sectors.  The key to unleashing our potential lies in the power of partnerships, and I believe NWT Days in Ottawa has done much to move us towards this goal.  I am proud to have led such a prestigious group, with representation from across the territory, who worked together to advance the interests of all of the people of the Northwest Territories.  I look forward to continuing to develop the goodwill built during NWT Days, further strengthening our presence in the nation’s capital, advancing our key priorities and building on the relationships developed among the NWT Days delegation to create a future where the Northwest Territories and our people are an essential part of Canada’s economy and Canada’s future.  

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.