Devolution AiP Signing

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

January 21, 2011 - Later this week, Canada and the Northwest Territories will sign an agreement-in-principle to negotiate the devolution of Crown land and resources to the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Devolution is the key to unlocking the full potential of our territory.

After years of negotiations, we finally have an agreement-in-principle that can serve as the basis for negotiating a final devolution agreement that will create real economic benefits for all NWT residents.

An agreement that will give us the legislative authority to make our own decisions and access to the financial resources to help fund infrastructure investment, economic development and program delivery for our people.

An agreement that will establish government-to-government relationships with NWT Aboriginal governments and give them a share of revenues earned from resource royalties on public lands.

An agreement that protects Aboriginal and treaty rights, and allows for future claims to continue to select Crown lands, just as they do now.

An agreement that will see Canada continue to contribute to the development of projects of national significance in the NWT.

And, an agreement that will see the NWT enter into negotiations with Canada over revenue sharing for offshore oil and gas resources.

The AiP represents a shared understanding of what should be included in the final agreement, the principles that would guide the next stage of negotiations and the agreement’s broad financial parameters. It is non-binding, and simply allows the negotiations process to move forward. It includes provisions and funding for Aboriginal governments to be full parties in negotiations on government-to-government relationships and post-devolution resource management.

I believe it provides the basis for a final devolution agreement that will be in the best interests of all NWT residents.

There is little risk in continuing to negotiate, but there is great risk in shutting down the process. If the GNWT, or any other party, does not like the terms of the final agreement, there is no obligation to sign it. But without a signed AiP, we won’t even get the opportunity to begin those final negotiations.

The AiP provides for Aboriginal governments to become parties to the devolution negotiations at any time by signing the AiP. Those that choose not to go any further in the process at this time will still be able to rejoin the process later.

It is time to begin the business of negotiating the actual agreement that will see the control of Crown lands and resources finally transferred to all of the people of the NWT.

Let’s take the next step towards a sustainable, prosperous future.

Premier Floyd Roland

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Questions and Answers

Q: How does devolution affect land claims?
A: It doesn’t. Land claims are constitutionally protected agreements and cannot be affected by devolution. Devolution does not affect aboriginal rights or jurisdiction over settlement lands.

Q: How long will it take to reach a final agreement?
A: We hope to have a final agreement in about two years.

Q: What is devolution?
A: Devolution transfers administration and control over Crown lands, resources, and rights with respect to water from Canada to the GNWT.