Premier McLeod Northern Premiers' Forum Remarks to Media

Welcome everyone. I am happy to be here this afternoon with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna.

As the leaders of three territories that share in a unified vision for the North, our meetings today have provided us an opportunity to discuss how we can move forward to create the North our residents deserve.

It’s no secret the North is facing critical challenges. We need a plan with clear priorities and objectives that will help move us towards a stronger economy and good jobs for our people. My colleagues and I share this goal. Today, we discussed how our governments can work to achieve this.

Carbon pricing, Canada’s Arctic Policy Framework, and the need for infrastructure investment are some of the key areas we focused on today. We have also had the opportunity to address our concerns surrounding our current relationship with the federal government and the actions needed to ensure they understand and prioritize the issues that are facing Northerners today.

The federal government continues to make plans and decisions that will have long-term implications for the North’s people and economy, including significant decisions in the areas of resource development, environmental regulation, and Indigenous relations.

The recent announcement regarding the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is an opportunity for improved relationship with Indigenous people and Northerners. This reorganization is an opportunity to honour the intent of devolution agreements, move decision-making into the hands of Northern governments from the new department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and the ultimate dissolution of the Northern Affairs program. The moratorium in offshore exploration in the Beaufort Sea which was announced earlier this year was done so without consultation and has already had major impacts on our economy and on our communities. Northerners cannot achieve economic self-determination, a key pillar of reconciliation, just with jobs in tourism and fisheries.

The Prime Minister is committed to growing the middle class by making sure people have access to good, well-paying jobs. Northerners and their governments want the same thing for themselves. Right now, the best jobs in our territories come from resource development and sectors that support it.

We know we want to transition to a more diversified economy but realistically the North will be a resourced based economy for the foreseeable future. How we manage the resources should be our focus, however, the Federal government appears to be focused on shutting down any resource activity. We are not a national park or playground for those who have access to all season roads, fresh inexpensive food and a multitude of job opportunities. 

The oil and gas industry has played a large part in the NWT’s economy over the last century and we have learnt a lot along the way.  The Prime Minister has said that sustainable and clean economic development in the North is a priority for the Government of Canada and we are ready to work collaboratively with the Federal Government on this. As Territories we have already begun work to streamline the legal and regulatory framework that ensures resources can be developed in a balanced sustainable way.

All regions of the country deserve a fair and equitable chance to create strong communities, stable and diversified economies and a clean environment. That is all we want. We have an opportunity as a nation to transform the North in a way that will create huge social and economic benefits for its people and that all Canadians can be proud of by investing in its people, its economy and its infrastructure.

Thank you.