Bob McLeod: Opening Remarks at the Opportunities North Conference

Delivered on September 12, 2017

Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here today, joined by colleagues, neighbouring governments and community leaders from all across Western Canada. This conference is an important one as it brings our jurisdictions together for focused discussions on ways we can work together to achieve greater economic prosperity.

Canada, and particularly the North are facing critical challenges. The Northwest Territories is home to a wealth of oil and gas resources that can provide enormous economic and social development opportunities for our residents, but for the first time, there is no oil and gas flowing in our territory. The moratorium in offshore exploration in the Beaufort Sea which was announced earlier this year was established without consultation and has already had major impacts on our economy and on our communities.

We have a responsibility to ensure we leave a strong and sustainable future for the next generation and that is why it is important to meet in these types of settings to discuss and learn from each other as we search for solutions to the challenges we all face.  

Earlier this month, I met with my counterparts in Yukon and Nunavut to discuss how we can move our respective jurisdictions toward a stronger economy and better jobs for our people. Northern Premiers share a unified vision for the North that will give Northerners a fair and equitable chance to create strong communities, stable and diversified economies and a clean environment. 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, too.

We all live and work in the communities we serve and want to see them prosper. I was born and raised in the Northwest Territories and it is home for me, my children and grandchildren. I want them to be able to live and work in a sustainable and prosperous territory for a long time.

All regions of the country deserve the chance to create strong communities, stable and diversified economies and a clean environment. Particularly in the North, we need to work together to create a vision that is based on the priorities and values of the people who live there and make sure that Northerners have a say in the decisions that affect them.

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.

Creating the North and Canada our people need and deserve means working together with many partners – Canada, Indigenous governments, community governments, business and industry. This conference provides all of us the chance to share and discuss ways we can work together to help each other achieve our goals and I look forward to speaking with many of you over the next couple of days and discover ways we can collaborate together.   

Thank you.