An Act to amend the Northwest Territories Act (borrowing limits)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Dennis Bevington  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Report stage (House), as of March 25, 2011
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Northwest Territories Act to allow the Commissioner to borrow money up to a certain limit without the approval of the Governor in Council.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Feb. 16, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Indian Affairs and Northern DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 25th, 2011 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I table my report, I would like to use this occasion also to thank you for all the work you have done and the help you have provided. It was a great privilege to travel with you in May of last year. That is a trip that I am sure will be in my memories for the rest of my years and I appreciate that.

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development concerning Bill C-530, An Act to amend the Northwest Territories Act (borrowing limits). The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Northwest Territories ActPrivate Members' Business

February 10th, 2011 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity this afternoon to speak to this very important motion by my colleague from the Northwest Territories, the member for Western Arctic. I say that because I have watched him work over the last two sessions of the House as he has represented so ably and actively his constituency, all those who live there and all those who govern that wonderful territory. I have nothing but admiration for the efforts he has made to gather all of the background documents, statistics, and information that were necessary to place the bill in front of us here today.

In the member's own words, from the speech he made introducing the bill, “It is one of the keys to building a better north, a more prosperous north, a north that can better share its wealth with the rest of Canada”.

I am disappointed in the speech that was given by the member for Saint Boniface a few minutes ago, particularly the way she maligned and tried to lessen the importance of the work the member is doing and to somehow suggest it is less than in keeping and in tune with what the Northwest Territories wants for itself. She had some misinformation in her presentation. For example, she mentioned a member of the Northwest Territory government as Dave Mackenzie when in fact that member is Dave Ramsay.

I know that the member for Western Arctic has the support of the Government of the Northwest Territories and he is working in consort with them as they work with the government on devolution. I was there when he spoke to the finance minister, Michael Miltenberger, and I know of the support and enthusiasm of that very important member of that government for this initiative and how he sees this as adding to its ability to make those investments that will be necessary if it is actually going to be able to take advantage of the devolution that is taking place.

I want to speak for a few minutes about the member for Western Arctic to make sure people understand that this is a member who did not just by chance somehow arrive here, through some fluke of an election. The member has worked long and hard. He was born and raised in the Northwest Territories, knows the Northwest Territories, knows the people and communities of the Northwest Territories intimately, having served for over 10 years as the mayor of the wonderful town of Fort Smith. He served on the green funds council of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities which worked with him to better the lot of municipalities in the territories. He served as a special adviser on energy to the premier of the Northwest Territories. He also served as a board member on the Northern River Basins study and as a federal government representative on the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board. The member who has introduced the bill before us that we debate here today also served as a former chair of the constitutional development steering committee for the Western Arctic, and as co-chair of that committee, where the member learned how passionate northerners are about increasing their autonomy and becoming a jurisdiction equal to the provinces.

Bill C-530 is a small but very important step in this increased autonomy. It is something he has thought long and hard about, worked very hard on, and believes in passionately. He has consulted with and has the support of some very important officials in the Northwest Territories government.

As background for the people listening, in case they were put off by the member for Saint Boniface in her diatribe before us here today, the Northwest Territories has a government which evolved from a committee of bureaucrats at Indian and Northern Affairs to a full-fledged, democratically elected government with full ministerial responsibility.

From 1897 to 1905, the Northwest Territories had an elected government resembling a province, but in 1905, after the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were created, what was left of the Northwest Territories slipped back to the status of a colony. The member wants to remove it from that. For the next 60 years a commissioner and an appointed territorial council ran the territory from Ottawa.

In the 1950s, a return to an elected government for the territories began. In 1951, the Northwest Territories Act was changed to permit three elected members from the Mackenzie district to join the four appointed members and the commissioner on the territorial council. At this time the council also began to alternate its sittings between Ottawa and the Northwest Territories.

Between 1955 and 1966 the powers of the territorial council were gradually increased, and by 1966, elected members formed the majority on the council.

In 1967, the administration of the Northwest Territories moved from Ottawa to Yellowknife. In 1975, the territorial council became a fully elected body and its member began to call it the legislative assembly the following year.

In 1965, following consultations across the territories, the federal Carrothers Commission recommended a gradual increase in territorial responsibility through the setting up of a working territorial government. The Carrothers report had a lot of influence. In 1967, Yellowknife was made the capital of the Northwest Territories and the first commissioner to be permanently based in the territories was appointed.

Many province-like responsibilities were taken over from the federal government in the following years. This included such things as education, housing and social services. Other responsibilities like health care, forest management and fire suppression were taken over in the 1980s. Crown lands, oil, gas and mineral resources continued to be administered by the federal government.

Responsible government gradually developed after 1975. In that year the first two MLAs were appointed to the commissioner's executive committee. The executive committee later became the executive council or cabinet of the territories.

In 1986, Commissioner Parker turned over his last cabinet responsibilities to elected MLAs, a step that was authorized by the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development under the Northwest Territories Act. This step marks full, responsible government.

Since the 1980s, the government of the Northwest Territories and the other territorial governments have gradually won the right to attend federal-provincial meetings along with the provinces. The GNWT now also participates in the western premiers conference and the annual premiers conferences. However, territorial governments are not counted for purposes of a formal amendment to the Constitution of Canada under part 5 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Why the need for Bill C-530? The requirement that a mature government, like the Northwest Territories, must come to Ottawa, cap in hand, requesting permission to borrow is a holdover from the days when the territories were administered by a committee of bureaucrats from Indian and Northern Affairs.

The territories government has a long history of balanced budgets and being responsible. Today it prudently administers $1 billion-plus budget. It is time Canada treated the Northwest Territories like the mature jurisdiction it is.

I urge members of the House, as they do all other provinces and jurisdictions in this great land, to trust this territory. Trust the member of Parliament for Western Arctic who has been sent by the people of the Northwest Territories to this place to speak on their behalf, as he does so well, day in and day out in this place. He asks us to allow the territory to have borrowing power so it can make the investments it needs and the infrastructure that will be necessary when devolution finally and ultimately takes place.

I hope that members of the House will ignore what was said by the member for Saint Boniface previously and look at Hansard to see what the member for Western Arctic said when he introduced this bill and what I have said here today, and vote in favour of this important initiative.

Northwest Territories ActPrivate Members' Business

November 3rd, 2010 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

moved that Bill C-530, An Act to amend the Northwest Territories Act (borrowing limits), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to stand here today. It is the first time I have had the opportunity to put forward a private member's bill for debate. It is certainly something that I am sure every MP looks forward to in his career here in Parliament.

Members of this House have heard me say many times how the people of the Northwest Territories want to be masters in their own land. I think this is something people in every province aspire to.

I have spoken about how the NWT is a mature jurisdiction and should not be controlled by Ottawa. Members have also heard me mention that the people of the Northwest Territories know that their requirement for infrastructure is one of the keys to building a better north, a more prosperous north, a north that can better share its wealth with the rest of Canada.

Bill C-530 is a small step towards achieving these aspirations. As many members already know, the Northwest Territories is a creation of this House, much like Canada was a creation of the British House of Commons.

Currently, under the Northwest Territories Act, before the NWT can borrow any money it must first ask permission of the federal cabinet. By practice, the cabinet has set a limit on the amount the NWT may borrow. Currently the limit is $500 million. This is a recent increase from the previous limit of $300 million, an increase that took years of lobbying, persuading, and hard work to achieve.

Unfortunately, when the lobbying started all those years ago, $500 million was sufficient. Today it barely meets the needs of the NWT and will not be adequate for the future.

However, even though it was nowhere near sufficient, because the funds were so badly needed when the limit was increased in 2007, the territorial government said in a press release:

This is a significant step in providing the GNWT with flexibility to make strategic investments in infrastructure to improve the lives of Northerners.

It was not enough. What my bill does is provide the Northwest Territories with a line of credit they can use to finance the building of vital infrastructure, ensuring that our territory progresses in a good fashion.

My bill provides a formula for borrowing based on gross revenues applied every year. The figure we have set is 70% of gross revenues. If my bill passes, the Government of the Northwest Territories will be able to borrow up to 70% of its gross revenues for that year, in totality. The debt is in totality, of course. That would be the total debt that it is allowed to hold: 70% of the gross revenues of any particular year.

What is the government going to do with this borrowing power? Canada has many aspirations for the Northwest Territories and its development. We have heard the Minister of the Environment speak eloquently many times about the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

Part of what we need to do to develop the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is develop a Mackenzie highway. This will cut the cost of the pipeline, and it will be an essential component of our vision of the Northwest Territories. Connecting all the communities of the Mackenzie Valley with an all-weather road would reduce living costs for residents, open up the rest of the Mackenzie Valley, and provide the opportunity for planned and careful development of our resources.

This is essential to us, but it is expensive. The Taltson hydro project is another example. We are moving ahead quickly to provide hydroelectric power to the diamond mines, which provide large amounts of revenue to the federal government as well as jobs and business opportunities in the Northwest Territories. However, the costs are very high because they use diesel fuel for all their power needs.

We propose that the Taltson hydro project go through an environmental assessment, but its cost is in excess of $500 million. Without better fiscal capacity within the Government of the Northwest Territories, it is going to be difficult for the people of the Northwest Territories to own this resource.

So once again we see the need for the Government of the Northwest Territories to have flexibility in fiscal capacity in order to accomplish projects that actually are self-financing, such as the Taltson project. Even if a project is self-financing and is owned by the Government of the Northwest Territories, it goes against its borrowing limit. So we are shackled right now by this borrowing limit that is in place.

Another example is the road to Tuktoyaktuk, which the previous Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development thought was a great project. He put money into the feasibility work that was going on, which got the project up to a point where it could go to an environmental assessment. It is a $100 million investment to tie in Tuktoyaktuk with Inuvik. This would give us year-round access to the port of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean, something that will assist in every fashion with the development of the north.

Where is the money going to come from for this? How can the Government of the Northwest Territories make arrangements with the federal government on shared projects or work together with other interests to create these projects without available fiscal capacity when it needs it?

There are many more examples, such as the need to upgrade the Liard Highway, at about $50 million, in order to bring tourists into Nahanni National Park. This government supported its expansion two years ago, but we need to improve access into the area in order to make that world heritage site available to Canadians and create a tourist opportunity greater than we have today.

Through these vital infrastructure projects and many others, the Northwest Territories will be able to begin developing its full potential.

Infrastructure is important, but we also need to look at our communities. Many communities need infrastructure in order to provide a comparable standard of living with other communities across this great nation. We want that for our communities. We need to invest in our communities to make that possible.

These are some of the fundamental reasons we want to see a change in the borrowing limit. We need the money. We need the opportunity and fiscal capacity for our government to be able to do this.

Why should we trust this government?

The negotiators for the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada have recommended the acceptance of a draft agreement in principle that would transfer administration and control of lands and resources from Canada to the Northwest Territories. We call that “devolution”. There is much work to be done on this yet. There are many parties in the Northwest Territories that have to come together on this agreement, no doubt. However, this is the closest we have come in a very long time to getting an agreement.

Once devolution is complete, the people of the Northwest Territories will become masters in their homeland to a greater extent than before, and to an extent that is almost similar to that of the provinces. But to reap the benefits of devolution, we need to invest in our territory. This is not going to happen without that investment. My bill provides a vital tool to achieve that.

The first line of the AIP says:

WHEREAS, to enhance the ability of the Government of the Northwest Territories to serve the interests of its constituents

That is my reason as well for bringing forward this bill. It is not in the interest of the people of the Northwest Territories to have to have its government come forward on regular intervals to beg Ottawa for an increase in the amount it has to borrow. This is not responsible government. This is not the kind of relationship that we want to have with Ottawa. This is not the way that Canadians should be treated in this land today.

On March 26 of this year, Moody's Investors Service gave the Northwest Territories an Aa1 rating. This rating is the second highest, and in terms of credit risk, it places the NWT in line with most of the provinces, and in fact higher than many of the provinces. This is the second year in a row that Moody's has issued the NWT such a high rating.

Moody's rating takes into account recent developments related to the Deh Cho Bridge project. So a project that was somewhat controversial is under this rating. The credit opinion notes that Moody's had already included the Deh Cho Bridge liability in its calculations of the NWT's net direct and indirect debt, reflecting the government's debt-like obligation to make periodic availability payments. As such, formal assumption of the related debt is not expected to alter the NWT's credit profile in a material way.

According to Moody's, the rating reflects:

prudent fiscal policies that have, over the past several years, limited debt accumulation. A well-developed fiscal framework (including a Fiscal Responsibility Policy which guides the NWT's fiscal policies and use of debt) should help to ensure that the debt burden remains low and affordable.

The NWT's fiscal responsibility policy mandates how the NWT may borrow. The policy guides NWT's fiscal policies and use of debt and includes guidelines respecting the type of activities for which debt can be issued, as well as limits on total debt and debt-servicing costs to ensure affordability.

What a remarkable thing for a small territory to do.

Under this policy, affordable debt is considered the level of debt where the corresponding annual debt servicing payments do not exceed 5% of total annual revenues. Infrastructure debt has to be paid off within 20 years. Debt for self-liquidating investments will be repaid from new revenues such as user fees, tolls, or expenditure savings. Debt incurred to finance repayable loan programs will be repaid from cash generated from the loan repayments and corresponding interest revenue.

Our territory is responsible. It is acting in a manner that many other provinces should emulate. Yet, at the same time, we do not have the fiscal capacity to do the things that we need to do for our territory.

I hope that Parliament will join with me in giving the Northwest Territories the tools it needs to build a strong and beautiful part of Canada.

In the words of the Hon. Floyd Roland when he was minister of finance:

This borrowing limit flies in the face of the principle of territorial political autonomy. It reflects an outdated and unreasonable view that we cannot make sound financial decisions on our own.

My bill would bring an end to this outdated and unreasonable situation.

Northwest Territories ActPrivate Members' Business

November 3rd, 2010 / 6:30 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if you remember, but I believe you were chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development when we first started talking about a study on the economic development of the north and on the constraints and difficulties that entails. We are just finalizing that study, which began almost two years ago. Like the hon. member for Yukon, I admit I was extremely surprised at the reaction of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance to the request from the New Democratic member for Western Arctic, a request that seemed perfectly legitimate to us.

The advantage of private members' bills is that they require us to do some research, to analyze and try to understand the problem. There is a difference between a government bill and a private members' bill. A private members' bill is introduced to solve a problem to the satisfaction of the party concerned.

In the Bloc Québécois, when we read Bill C-530 for the first time, we wondered what it was all about. We did not know this problem existed. We now realize that one of the main challenges involved in the economic development of the north is the fact that the inhabitants of that region are not autonomous. They cannot develop and have a vision for the future without the government's permission.

It is pure paternalism. Have we had gone back to the days of colonialism? The state steps in and tells the people how to develop the region. It says it cannot lend them a lot of money and that it will wait and see. If we want these territories, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, to take control of their own destiny, then we have to at least give them the chance to develop. One way to do so is to increase their borrowing capacity.

Let us draw a parallel. We have a credit card that we pay off on time every month. The bank or financial institution that issued the card writes to us after six months to say that, because the balance has always been paid, our credit will be increased. It is done automatically.

In a modern society, companies write to us to increase our lines of credit. That is usually what happens. Not only do the Northwest Territories pay their debts, but they also even have a small surplus at the end of the year. In the 2010-11 budget, their projected surplus is $35 million. Their projected income is $1.357 billion and their projected expenditures are $1.293 billion. If that is not an administration that respects itself, takes responsibility and looks after its own development, then I do not know what is.

In short, the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of sending this bill to committee to be studied.

I would very much like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance to come to the committee to repeat what he said today. I do not think he would dare do so. It is not possible. It is paternalism in the extreme. How can—I was going to say nation, and I will say it—a nation, a territory like the Northwest Territories develop? They have mines. I looked into that because that forces us to work. We have worked. We have done our homework. They have not done their homework. It is clear that the parliamentary secretary has not done his homework.

We just have to look at the expansion plans for the Taltson hydro project. A power plant like that produces electricity. Of course to build it, money must be borrowed. We thought about our own dams in James Bay, in Quebec. We borrowed money to build them, but we have since seen a return on our investment. The Taltson power plant was explained to us. It is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric plant. It uses water that flows through the river. This hydro development on the Taltson River could replace 114 million litres of diesel and 320 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Now I understand why the Conservatives oppose the bill. They might no longer be able to sell their oil in the north. If that is why, they should say so. Imagine that. When we hear things like that and read things like that, it does not make sense.

The purpose of the bill is to promote the economic development of Canada's north. The Northwest Territories want development. They want to stop having to come to Ottawa to beg the government, under section 20, for the opportunity to borrow a little more. They will be able to pay it back, but they have to ask permission from their grandfather, their big brother, their great-uncle or someone in Ottawa. I hope this government will understand. That is not the way to develop these lands.

If we want Yukon to address this issue, we need to do exactly what the member for Yukon said in the House. If the Northwest Territories want to develop, they need to do something about it. We will answer questions. We will go to committee. We will bring witnesses forward. We understand that anything can happen, but we cannot refuse and say that we do not want to hear anything about it from the outset. I think that this is an interesting bill. It allows us to put a finger on one of the major problems of economic development in the North. One of the problems that has been mentioned by nearly everyone in the North, including people in the Northwest Territories, is that no one is capable of long-term planning. This bill, if it is passed, will allow them to develop.

We have studied this bill. We said it today and we will say it again. We hope that this bill will go to committee. With all due respect for my colleagues in the governing party, I hope that they will not come before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with the same opinion that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance expressed today because they will find their hour before the committee to be very long.

That is why we will make sure this bill is studied in committee.

Northwest Territories ActPrivate Members' Business

November 3rd, 2010 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Western Arctic for his work on Bill C-530. He is also an extremely hard-working and determined member of Parliament and the citizens of Western Arctic are getting extremely good value re-electing him time after time as their member of Parliament.

I was very surprised by the speech of the government member. He is normally a very restrained and thoughtful speaker but today he is out of character. It demonstrates that the government has run up the white flag on this bill. I think it can see that the three opposition parties will be voting together and will have sufficient votes to send it to committee and well it should be because it is a very well constructed and very good bill.

The parliamentary secretary fails to understand his role and the government's role in Parliament. The fact is that the Canadian government or any government for that matter in the parliamentary system survives at the pleasure of Parliament. The parliamentary secretary has one vote in the House as the member for Western Arctic does. This Parliament is a sovereign body. The parliamentary secretary has no right to berate any member of the House for simply doing his or her job. That is what the member was doing.

I was very impressed with the speech by the member for Yukon. He rightly came to the defence of the member to put the government in its place and make the government understand what its role really is.

The member for Yukon pointed out that there is a devolution agreement already in place for Yukon. It separates it from the other territories to a certain degree because there is a different level of authority between one territory and another.

Another issue that we need to deal with is that we are at second reading of the bill. Second reading of any bill is to deal with the principle of the bill. We are not supposed to be spending our time in our speeches going through the minutia of the bill and discussing it clause by clause and point by point. The whole reason for second reading debate is whether or not members agree or disagree with the principle behind the bill.

That is why I argue many times in my own caucus that on second reading if we agree with the principle then we should be supporting the bill. I think, by and large, more often than not we should be voting together in Parliament to support bills at second reading if we agree with the principle.

What the government has done tonight is to simply to say that it does not even agree with the principle. We just had the Prime Minister a few months ago go up to the Arctic and talk about Arctic sovereignty and how we need to spend gazillions of dollars there to keep the Russians at bay and all the other enemies that he sees out there at bay because we want to be able to extend our arguments for sovereignty over minerals and oil exploration as far north as we can.

That is what the bill would do. The bill would facilitate our goal of extending our sovereignty in this country. That is another reason that I am very surprised and disappointed at the parliamentary secretary's response to the bill. The bill does not ask for a lot. It asks that a territory to be able to extend its borrowing capacity.

I want to reference something the member pointed out in his speech, which is that on March 26, Moody's Investors Services gave the Northwest Territories a AA1 rating, which is the second highest rating and places the Northwest Territories in line for credit risk with most of the provinces. This is the second year in a row that Moody's has issued the Northwest Territories such a high rating.

I know how important Moody's Investors Services and all these rating agencies are. These are world-class rating agencies. They rate securities, bonds and governments.

I was a member of the legislature in Manitoba for 23 years and before that I worked as an executive assistant to a minister in the Ed Schreyer government, which was elected first in 1969. Finance ministers of all provinces care a lot about Moody's and the other financial houses in terms of their ratings. They routinely get on a plane two or three times a year and go cap in hand to New York to be interviewed by representatives of these investment houses in order to get that all important good credit rating. They know that if their credit rating slips, the borrowing costs will be a lot more and it could mean a lot of money. This is very good news that the Northwest Territories has the capacity to get a credit rating like this.

The other issue concerns what it is borrowing. Is the federal government somehow lending the money, putting up the money and guaranteeing the money? The member has explained how the territory has always paid its bills and operates very fiscally responsibly. We would wish that the government would do the same.

There is another issue that the territories might look at, if this bill is successful. I think it will be successful with the Bloc, the Liberals and the NDP voting for it. It is just a matter of time before we actually get this bill passed. However, there are a lot of creative financing possibilities and opportunities that jurisdictions and provinces can take upon themselves. I will give an example.

Twenty years ago, in 1986 in Manitoba, the government looked at selling bonds. Some of our backbench MLAs, one of them in particular, one of my former colleagues, suggested in the caucus that we sell Manitoba government bonds, that we sell Manitoba Hydro bonds. Guess what? Two years later, Manitoba Hydro was issuing its own bonds to citizens of Manitoba.

Does that not make a lot more sense than borrowing money in New York or on the foreign market, or perhaps even with a foreign exchange and other currencies? We have all been burned on currency exchanges over the years by borrowing in Swiss francs, Dutch guilders or German marks. What we did, which is what other provinces have done, was take out the bond right in Manitoba. We had Manitobans buying our bonds and keeping the money in the province. The interest on the bonds was staying in the province.

I know, for example, that Air North airlines in the member for Yukon's riding is a big success story. It has its headquarters, its commissary and its flight crews in Whitehorse. It is a real asset to that community. Even its financing is very positive, as far as I am concerned, because it sells shares to people in Yukon.

When I was up there last year, I talked to a person who worked as a server in the local hotel. She is thrilled with Air North because she bought $5,000 worth of shares, she gets one or two free flights a year, and she gets a return on her investment. That is the type of local investment that we want to encourage within our local jurisdictions, and that can be done. It is not the Conservative approach that everything needs to be done through Goldman Sachs and other financial houses on the advice of these houses on foreign markets.

The member who is on the finance committee may laugh about that, but there are many ways to raise funds. We are saying that if we give people a local stake in their enterprises, we will see a much more solid enterprise in the long term.

I have not even begun to go through the notes that I have with respect to this debate. The parliamentary secretary got me to respond the way I did. I really did not expect that kind of attitude from the government. As the member for the Bloc said, I sure hope the government does not have that attitude when the three opposition parties pass this bill on to committee where it belongs.

Northwest Territories ActRoutine Proceedings

June 10th, 2010 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-530, An Act to amend the Northwest Territories Act (borrowing limits).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce this private member's bill, as it is another step on the Northwest Territories' road to becoming more like a province.

Currently, the NWT must come cap-in-hand to Ottawa asking for an increase in the amount that it can borrow. Many of the borrowing requirements in the Northwest Territories are for things that are self-financing. Yet, still, this borrowing limit means that we must obtain the permission of cabinet to move forward with these amounts.

We are not content to remain in this colonial position. Our government is strong and has been fiscally responsible for many decades. For years, the federal government has promised the evolution of provincial-like jurisdictions to the NWT but with no action. Because of this lack of action, the natural resources of the Northwest Territories are in jeopardy.

Without the ability to borrow more money, the territory may be forced to privatize certain facilities, like the Taltson hydro project with the expansion to service the diamond mines, something that is a profitable venture for the public government in the Northwest Territories. However, without the borrowing capacity, it cannot participate in this project. The natural resources of the Northwest Territories should go to benefit the people of the Northwest Territories, especially those where the government has taken an active role in developing a project.

This bill and my previous bill to give jurisdiction over new highway construction would make the Northwest Territories more like a province. Step by step, we can achieve what other parts of the country have and we want to move forward.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)