YELLOWKNIFE (November 8, 2017) – Premier Bob McLeod issued the following statement today to clarify numbers provided in recent interviews on the future of the Northwest Territories:
Last week I issued a public red alert calling for a national debate about the future of the Northwest Territories. This call was based on continuing questions the Government of the Northwest Territories has concerning federal plans for the North and their commitment to investing meaningfully in its ongoing social and economic development in a strategic and coordinated way.
In subsequent interviews, I made the comment that 52 percent of the NWT’s land was protected, meaning land not currently available to the GNWT for development. I have since had those numbers verified and would like to clarify that 43 percent of the land in the Northwest Territories is currently unavailable to the GNWT for development. This includes currently protected lands, lands withdrawn for conservation and lands proposed for conservation, as well as lands withdrawn for land claim negotiations and settlement lands held by Indigenous governments, as detailed in the attached map.
I also stated that resource development accounts for 40 percent of the NWT economy when measured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), when taking both direct and indirect contributions into account. GDP changes constantly with activity in the NWT economy and there have been several years since 1999 where the direct and indirect impacts of resource development have accounted for 40 percent or more of GDP. As of 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available, resource development contributed 32 percent to the NWT economy. While the numbers change from year to year, the fact is that resource development has been and continues to be the single biggest driver of the NWT’s economy.
The confusion over the numbers is unfortunate, as it is shifting the focus from the real issue, which is that the people of the NWT must have a say in defining the future of their territory and can no longer be an afterthought in Ottawa. Whatever the actual numbers, the fact of the matter is that our government has not received any clear indication that Canada has a coherent vision or plan for the NWT’s long term future that is guiding decisions they are already making and implementing in the NWT. The federal government’s decisions have a significant impact on the NWT and its people and we are eager to partner with them to improve the lives of Northerners. But we need to be sure that Canada is prepared to truly listen and understand the NWT’s priorities and then commit to pursuing them with us.