Evidence of meeting #7 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was north.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Mitch Bloom  Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
  • Janet King  Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Sara Filbee  Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

When you sit down with Exxon or Esso or Shell Oil or Gulf, or any other exploiter of natural resources in the fossil fuel sector, are you saying to me that you have no conversations, no mandate, no examination of what the impacts will be in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions?

4:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

I think I said our goal is to align the efforts of all federal partners, so it would be very important for any project proponent to make sure they've done the rounds throughout the federal government and all the departments with their own various responsibilities. There are others who have that. In that sense, you're right. Being the convenor is an important role, but it doesn't mean you become the spokesperson for every issue.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Mr. McGuinty, your time is up.

Did you want to respond, Ms. King?

4:15 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

I would just add a comment. The coordinating role being played also respects the mandates of other departments. It does not crosswalk over to the other mandates of departments that may carry responsibilities linked to that.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Thank you.

Now to the five-minute round.

Mr. Lizon.

October 17th, 2011 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Thank you.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

I just want to clarify something in your mandate. If I understand correctly, you are coordinating with the proponents. Are you like a one-stop place where people can come and don't have to go to different departments? Is this exactly what you're doing? Could you elaborate on this? If I were a person who wanted to invest and open a project in the north, I would rather come to one place and have them deal with other departments, rather than going to different departments and dealing with them myself.

4:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

You actually have said it better than I could, so thank you for posing the question in that way.

That is the goal, to become the one-stop single window for the private sector to get into understanding the regulatory process. Effectively the words I used were “pathfind for them”, so they know where to go, and we can make sure they have that knowledge and are able to go forward on an expedited or at least on an efficient and effective basis. As I alluded to, it also sometimes means pointing them to the other regulators in the system, making sure they understand what the roles of the review boards that exist in the territories are. But yes, the goal is to provide that single-window access to simplify the interactions from a business perspective.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Is it actually working like this at the present, or have you still some way to go?

4:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

I chose my words carefully; I said “goal”. It's not perfect yet. I would be disingenuous if I said that. The function, which Don next to me leads, has been around for a little over a year and a half. It takes time to build up that credibility and that capacity. To say it's a goal...it's not an aspirational goal; it's one we work on every day, and there's more work to be done.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Thank you.

Promoting economic development is a key part of our government's northern strategy. Can you expand on how large a role you see natural resources development playing in strengthening economic activity in the north?

4:20 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

I understand you had a witness last week from Natural Resources Canada, and anticipate another, so I'm sure you will hear in detail their role in the broader economic development in the north, guided by the northern strategy.

There's significant work being done on the part of NRCan. I would prefer to leave that to them to describe, but it covers broad knowledge acquisition through geoscience mapping, for example, mineral assessment, oil and gas work, and many other pieces of work.

4:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

If I understood your question, I think it was also to ask what's the role of resource development in the north.

I had an interesting experience in Alaska several weeks ago, and I put myself back in time 70 years. I was talking to a former governor and he was explaining what Alaska was like before they discovered oil on the north slope; it was like Canada's north now.

You can agree or disagree--I didn't really have a view on Alaska's development, if it was done the right way or not--but they took a single resource-based commodity and turned that state into something they're very proud of. I see that same opportunity with respect to where Canada is going. That's one of the reasons I said in my opening remarks what's very important isn't only resource development, resource extraction; it's what it means to provide a sustainable economy in Canada's northern territories so that when the extraction is finished, jobs are still there, communities remain there, and economic development continues.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

What would you say are the main challenges facing resource development in the north?

4:20 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

My apologies for misunderstanding. I heard Natural Resources Canada. But perhaps I may respond briefly to that question as well.

Natural resources have a significant impact on potential economic development in the north. As you are aware, 20 years ago the revenue stream of the Northwest Territories was based on four declining gold mines. That has turned around significantly now with the diamond mines, in terms of providing $2 billion to their revenue. This is an example to show the impact that natural resource development can have on that part of the Northwest Territories.

Could you repeat that last question?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

I asked what, in your view, are the main challenges facing resource development in the north.