Northern Jobs and Growth Act

An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

John Duncan  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

Part 1 enacts the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, which implements certain provisions of Articles 10 to 12 of the land claims agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada that was ratified, given effect and declared valid by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, which came into force on July 9, 1993.

Part 2 enacts the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act, which implements provisions of certain land claim agreements. In particular, that Act establishes the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board, whose purpose is to resolve matters in dispute relating to terms and conditions of access to lands and waters in the Northwest Territories and the compensation to be paid in respect of that access.

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.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, this question has absolutely nothing to do with this bill. We are hearing this time and time again from members on the government side as they try to propagandize. It is not against my party; it is against the one next to me on this side. It is wrong for them to go on with that propaganda and misinformation when they are supposed to be debating a bill.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Just to finish, Mr. Speaker, it is important that there is context to these kinds of agreements because they are balancing sustainable development with real economic opportunity and growth. Therefore, we do not want anything, as a matter of policy, to get in the way and increase costs. We know those challenges exist in the north.

I have a two-part question for the member for Yukon. First, does he agree with the member for Western Arctic, contrary to the NDP carbon tax plan, that this would not help this terrific agreement advance forward, and second, does he think that combining the Nunavut and the Northwest Territories pieces is a better, more comprehensive way to advance regulatory framework land claim agreements and the like in an effort to unleash or unlock this tremendous economic opportunity for northern Canadians?

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the member for Western Arctic that a carbon tax is not the direction to go. I clearly campaigned on the fact that we would not support or introduce that. I clearly campaigned on a low-tax plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

I am proud to stand behind a government that is going to move our country forward and move the economy forward without raising taxes on Canadian families, without the government telling Canadians how they are going to spend their hard-earned dollars, creating an environment for opportunity for Canadians to grow. That is the role of government.

The role of government is to produce and create opportunities and an environment in Canada for Canadians to succeed and have a choice to pick where they want to go and what they want to do. A carbon tax does not do that. A carbon tax would take money directly out of the pockets of Canadians and would start to direct them on where they have to go and what they have to do to find opportunities, controlled by a government.

We do not believe in that kind of plan. We will never support that kind of plan. I certainly will not stand behind that sort of plan. I do find it interesting that everything we are doing is paring off, trying to make sure Canadians have an environment where they can choose and where they can realize success. On most occasions, the opposition is voting against that.

I would encourage the member for Western Arctic to stand behind these things and realize that the opportunities and environment being created by the government is what government is supposed to do.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I stand to speak to Bill C-47, An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts.

Article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

The reason I am reading that into the record today is that, with the legislation, it is very important since the Government of Canada did sign on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we would hope that it would expect that free, prior and informed consent. I raise it in the context of the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act. I raise that become it seems that some groups and organizations from the Northwest Territories feel that they have not been adequately consulted on this legislation.

The New Democrats will support sending this legislation at second reading to committee so we can fully review it. This is lengthy legislation and it would make some amendments to other acts.

Part of this legislation was originally introduced in 2010. It was Bill C-25, Nunavut planning and project assessment act. I will read from the legislative summary because it is still applicable to the legislation that we have before us. It is an important part of where we are going with this bill. I will focus mostly on Nunavut. My friend from Western Arctic covered some of the issues around the Northwest Territories.

In the legislative summary of Bill C-25, which is applicable to Bill C-47, it reads:

In a landmark ruling in 1973 the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that Aboriginal peoples’ historic occupation of the land gave rise to legal rights in the land that had survived European settlement. In 1982, the Constitution was amended to “recognize and affirm” the “existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.” “Treaty rights” include rights under land claims agreements.

The Nunavut land claims agreement of 1993 took numerous years in order to be negotiated but there are some key objectives to the agreement that are related to the legislation before us.

The objectives of the agreement are:

to provide for certainty and clarity of rights to ownership and use of lands and resources and of rights for Inuit to participate in decision-making concerning the use, management and conservation of land, water and resources, including the offshore,

to provide Inuit with wildlife harvesting rights and rights to participate in decision-making concerning wildlife harvesting,

to provide Inuit with financial compensation and means of participating in economic opportunities, [and]

to encourage self-reliance and the cultural and social well-being of Inuit.

Under the provisions of the Nunavut land claims agreement, there are a couple of things:

Among many other things, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement provides for the federal government and the Inuit to establish a joint regime for land and resource management (articles 10 to 12). Article 10 sets out the criteria for the land and resource institutions to be created, while article 11 sets out the parameters for land use planning within the Nunavut Settlement Area, and article 12 details how development impact is to be evaluated.

Under article 10, the federal government undertakes to establish the following government institutions to administer the regime:

Surface Rights Tribunal;

Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC);

Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB); and

Nunavut Water Board.

Canada partially fulfilled its obligations by establishing the first and fourth of these institutions when Parliament enacted the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act 11 in 2002. Bill C-25 [which is now Bill C-47] fulfills the government’s obligations with regards to the other two institutions, the NPC and the NIRB. Note, however, that both of these institutions already exist. They came into being in 1997 under the Nunavut Settlement Agreement. Bill C-25 formalizes their establishment in legislation and sets out how they will continue to operate.

Again, the legislative summary indicates that:

Work on the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act began in 2002. To fulfill its obligation for close consultation with Inuit, the Government of Canada established the Nunavut Legislative Working Group, consisting of the Government of Canada (represented by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and the Government of Nunavut, and supported by the participation of the NPC and the NIRB.

The Working Group met regularly through to 2007 to discuss and resolve policy issues, gaps the bill should address, and resolve questions and legal interpretation of the agreement and how these solutions should be reflected in the bill. When these issues were satisfactorily advanced in 2007, drafting of the bill began with oversight and direction from the Working Group.

I will use the government's backgrounder to quickly summarize the key elements in the bill that are relevant around the Nunavut planning and project assessment.

The proposed legislation will:

Continue the functioning of the Commission and the Board and clearly define and describe their powers, duties and functions, including how their members are appointed. It will also clearly define the roles and authorities of Inuit, federal and territorial governments;

Establish timelines for decision-making in the land use planning and environmental assessment processes to create a more efficient and predictable regulatory regime;

Define how, and by whom, Land Use Plans will be prepared, amended, reviewed and implemented in Nunavut;

Describe the process by which the Commission and the Board will examine development proposals; and

Harmonize the assessment process for transboundary projects by providing for review by joint panels and providing an opportunity for the Board to review and assess projects outside the Area that may have an adverse impact on the Nunavut Settlement Area;

Provide for the development of general and specific monitoring plans that will enable both governments to track the environmental, social and economic impacts of projects;

Establish effective enforcement tools to ensure terms and conditions from the plans and impact assessment process are followed; and

Streamline the impact assessment process, especially for smaller projects, and provide industry with clear, consistent and transparent guidelines, making investments in Nunavut more attractive and profitable.

Generally speaking, there is fairly wide support for the Nunavut part of the bill. Again, this goes back to 2010 when, before the aboriginal affairs committee of the day, the Nunavut Water Board appeared and indicated some support. Other organizations, as well as some of the mining companies, had indicated some support. However, some concerns are still being raised.

In a letter that we received from legal counsel from NTI, it anticipated that a number of amendments would be required to ensure the bill's compliance with the Nunavut land claims agreement. NTI intends to make submissions to the parliamentary committees on these aspects of the bill. It stated that it would be important that adequate time and space be available for NTI to make oral and written submissions to the committee, as well as NTI's regional Inuit associations, the NPC, NIRB and the Government of Nunavut if it so desired.

It is important to note that, although there is support, people still feel there are some amendments that are required to this particular section of the bill.

A number of concerns had been raised about funding and I will turn to the testimony that came before the committee back on May 13, 2010. The members of the NIRB indicated at that time that funding was always a concern. Once again, we have legislation where funding has not been built into it, and, of course, it is often not. However, there has not been a commitment around funding.

In response to questions posed at the committee to the deputy minister in 2010 about the commitment the government and the department had toward funding, the deputy minister provided assurances--

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am continuing on with my comments on Bill C-47.

As I indicated at the outset of my speech, New Democrats support the bill going to committee at second reading for further review.

When I was interrupted, I was referring to the legislative summary that talked about the deputy minister of what was then Indian and Northern Affairs providing reassurances to aboriginal and northern affairs members that although implementation would add to the workload of certain agencies in Nunavut, including the Nunavut Impact Review Board, they would get the resources they needed. However, it was not made clear what funding would be dedicated for this purpose.

I want to go back and refer to testimony that was before the aboriginal affairs committee in May 2010. The Nunavut Impact Review Board, among others, came before the committee to outline some of its concerns generally about the operation of its organization in the north as well as specific reference to what was then Bill C-25.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the other side for the support in continuing to speak.

The review board indicated that the draft legislation would create the one-window approach that is currently lacking. However, this does not eliminate the need for the Nunavut institutions to continue to work together. Rather, it is increasingly important in preparation for the law coming into force.

Additional resources will be required for the boards to participate in this implementation planning and in equipping the organizations to meet new requirements and timelines.

It would be essential for the Nunavut Planning Commission, as a single window into the Nunavut regulatory regime, to access the expertise held within these organizations in order to fully understand the impact assessment and regulatory processes that occur.

I also want to discuss one of the most significant ongoing challenges facing the board, which are the delays in the appointment of board members. This delay can result in a loss of quorum. The boards rely on board members to make the decisions required to fulfill their respective mandates.

Further on, the executive director of the Nunavut Water Board was speaking and indicated that he wanted to speak about the board's funding constraints:

Given the vast territory, the obligation to hold hearings in communities most directly affected, working in three languages, and the limited capacity of people and communities to engage in the regulatory process, the cost of fulfilling the mandate of the boards is high.

Again, he was referencing the challenges with the amount of resources that were provided. He went on to say:

If economic development potential in the north is a key objective of the federal government, it is the board's view that equal measures to promote and support the regulatory regimes are required to effectively and efficiently fulfill the commitments made in the Nunavut land claims agreement.

He went on to talk about how important it is to make increased resources available to the Water Review Board, but also to other organizations as well:

Accordingly, the boards recommend a review of federal and territorial resources available and required to fulfill the NLCA functions and reduce barriers to development in the north.

As I mentioned earlier, there are not any assurances in this piece of legislation that there will be the resources available for Nunavut to actually undertake the implementation of this very important piece, and that is another reason why it is important to get the bill to committee quickly, because of course it was first introduced in 2010, and here we are two years later, and because of an election, the bill was not dealt with. Of course, we have been back here for well over a year and the bill could have been introduced months ago.

One of the reasons the Water Review Board is raising concerns around funding is that it has been the experience, when other pieces of legislation have been passed, when there has not been that commitment to funding, that those pieces of legislation actually languish.

I want to refer to Bill C-34 that was passed by the Parliament of Canada back in December 2006. Bill C-34 was the First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act. FNESC, which has been an advocate, actively involved in implementing that piece of legislation, has recently written a letter to the former minister Jim Prentice, indicating to Mr. Prentice:

However, unilateral action by the Canadian government is now jeopardizing the education jurisdiction initiative in BC, including the legally binding agreements and supporting legislation. Specifically, we have been unable to reach resolution with the Government of Canada regarding reasonable funding for this initiative.

Here we have a piece of legislation that was passed in 2006. Here we are in 2012, and the initiative still is not being appropriately funded.

The Nunavut Impact Review Board is quite correct in raising concerns about the fact that adequate funding has not so far been talked about.

In the last couple of minutes I have left I want to raise some concerns, overall, with the speed of implementation of land claims agreements and some of the subsequent agreements that are so important for their effective functioning.

In the second universal periodic review that was submitted on October 9, 2012, to the United Nations Human Rights Council by the Land Claims Agreements Coalition, they have raised a number of concerns about Canada's foot-dragging on these matters. In this they outline first of all the importance of modern treaties and the fact that these modern treaties represent nation to nation and government to government relationships between aboriginal signatory and the Crown in right of Canada.

They go on to talk about the importance of this in terms of:

...[improving] social, cultural, political and economic well-being. At the same time, these agreements are intended to provide all signatories with a mutual foundation for the beneficial and sustainable development and use of Aboriginal peoples' traditional lands and resources.

They talk about the fact that:

The treaty rights arising from modern land claims...express the mutual desire of the Crown and Aboriginal peoples to reconcile through sharing the lands, resources and natural wealth of this subcontinent in a manner that is equitable and just, in contrast to the discriminatory and assimilationist approaches that have characterized their historical relations.

They talk about the honour of the Crown, and I will touch on a couple of the recommendations they made. First, they raised the issue of the fact that “...Nunavut, one of the Coalition's founding members...” had to file a claim “against the Government of Canada, concerning a litany of federal implementation failures in respect of the Nunavut Agreement...”.

They then state:

In June 2012, Mr. Justice Johnson of the Nunavut Court of Justice ruled in favour of the Inuit, in relation to one aspect of the suit, concerning the failure to develop an ecosystemic and socio-economic monitoring plan.

It goes on to say:

Mr....Johnson ordered the Government of Canada to disgorge the $14 million it had saved by not implementing the treaty obligation in a timely manner.

Later on in the submission to the Human Rights Council, as I had mentioned, they raised the issue about funding and the fact that funding has not been discussed, at least that we can tell, in Bill C-47.

The Land Claims Coalition has put forward a “Four-Ten Declaration and Model Implementation Policy”. In this four-ten declaration, it has indicated:

A federal commitment to achieve the broad objectives of modern treaties, as opposed to mere technical compliance with narrowly defined obligations. This must include, but not be limited to, ensuring adequate funding to achieve these objectives and obligations.

It also indicates:

There must be an independent implementation and review body.

That has often been a sticking point when we come to land claims and treaties.

The document further states:

On March 3, 2009, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition released a model national policy on land claims agreement implementation: “Honour, Spirit and Intent: A Model Canadian Policy on the Full Implementation of Modern Treaties Between Aboriginal Peoples and the Crown”....

And in this, under the model, one point specifically related to Bill C-47 is that the model Canadian policy calls for:

Implement[ing] dynamic self-government arrangements and negotiat[ing] stable, predictable and adequate funding arrangements;

Negotiate in good faith with Aboriginal signatories to conclude multi-year implementation plans and fiscal agreements and arrangements;

Provide sufficient and timely funding to fully implement the objectives of modern treaties;

So the issue of funding is very important when we are talking about Bill C-47. It has been raised over a number of years, and we have not seen that firm commitment. The deputy minister said that although they were considering it, he did not make any kind of commitment when he came before the committee a couple of years ago.

In conclusion, New Democrats are supporting this bill getting to committee. We are looking forward to a thorough review of a very technical, complex piece of legislation. It impacts on Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I look forward to having that very thorough discussion and getting this piece of legislation moved forward.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is an incredible advocate for first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in this country, and I always appreciate her well-informed and well-researched speeches.

The member raised an important matter, that it is very important to move forward with legislation so that Nunavut can move forward on implementing its self-government and self-administration of its lands. However, as the predecessor to the hon. member as this party's critic for aboriginal affairs and northern development, I received many briefings from first nations and from the Nunavut people, expressing their concerns that the government has failed to deliver on its constitutional obligations to provide the financing necessary to implement the self-government provisions of its land claim and self-government agreements.

Could the member elaborate on that a bit?

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, part of the ongoing challenge with land claims agreements and self-government agreements has been the continued lack of long-term funding, or when the windows come up when these agreements need to be reviewed, there is continual foot-dragging. That is one of the reasons that the Land Claims Coalition put forward the model policy that talks on a number of points about the importance of consistent funding.

I talked about the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the B.C. First Nations Education Act, and it is a really good example of something that has now been in place for six years and has not been adequately funded. The Nunavut land claims agreement has been in place for decades and it has taken this long to get this next phase of the agreement implemented through Bill C-47. Even with this, there still has not been that long-term commitment to funding. We simply cannot have the improvement in socio-economic status if we do not have those long-term commitments to funding.

Hopefully we will hear at committee, once we hear from the minister, that the government is committing to that kind of funding to move this next piece of legislation forward.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's comments across the floor and concerns about the Nunavut Impact Review Board and the Nunavut Planning Commission and the difficulty at times maintaining quorum, but as I understand in the bill there are at least three provisions that would look after that.

If a member's term expires while a project proposal is under review, that could be extended in relation to the project until a review is complete. Second, if a vacancy occurs during the term, a new member could be appointed for a three-year term. Finally, the board has the authority to establish panels of three, five and seven members. I am wondering if the member opposite would agree that these would enhance the ability for the planning commission and the review board to carry out their duties.

Northern Jobs and Growth ActGovernment Orders

November 26th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course I indicated a number of times in my speech that the New Democrats are supporting getting the bill to committee. We are hoping that will happen fairly quickly.

With regard to the issues around quorum and board members, the testimony I was reading was from 2010, and here we are two years later when we finally have a piece of legislation that hopefully would help deal with it, but I must point out that part of the challenge rested with the government in terms of the appointment of those board members.

I would agree it is a good move forward. It is just unfortunate it has taken so long to do it.