Mr. Speaker, before I start, I want to thank the Minister of the Environment for her leadership, both in the portfolio she has been given in cabinet and also for her leadership in the north. It is unfortunate that the member for Ottawa South kept trying to interrupt her while she was speaking. She passionately defends the north, her communities and her territory both in the House and at the cabinet table. We are very proud to have her as the leader of our northern caucus. She does a great job in that regard.
No government in Canadian history has done more for Canada's north than our Conservative government. One can see the legislative steps that we have taken through our northern strategy, the Northern Jobs and Growth Act.
This is the final step to improve the regulatory process in the Yukon and in Nunavut. As the minister has outlined, on the Nunavut side we are protecting the environment by increasing the ability to levy fines. We are giving the people of Nunavut more control over their own territory, which is something we believe in on this side of the House.
It is unfortunate that through this whole debate when we talked about devolution to the territories and giving more powers to the territorial governments, the NDP and Liberals fought against it. They want to keep more power here in Ottawa. We want to give more power to the people of the north and their governments because we believe that the power should be closer to the people.
What have we seen with the bill? Why is the bill necessary? We have seen through independent reports that because of the improvements that have been made south of 60 to the regulatory regime, the Yukon territory has fallen behind in its regulatory environment. It used to be number one in the world in terms of attractiveness for mining companies for resource development. It has fallen to ninth according to the recent Fraser Institute report. Also, in terms of perception of regulatory policy, it has fallen to ninth in Canada. When devolution occurred over a decade ago, Yukon led Canada in terms of its regulatory regime. It has fallen behind and we need to get it back up on par with the rest of Canada.
I want to talk briefly as well, in the limited time I have, about some of the issues that have been raised. The first was raised again by the Liberal Party. It said there has been a lack of consultation, which is demonstrably false. There have been dozens of meetings that have taken place, just on the four contentious amendments alone. There was $100,000 given to first nations groups who participated in those consultation sessions. They submitted receipts to the government saying they had consulted with us and would like to be reimbursed for that. Of course, we have paid those funds. There has been consultation. It has been paid for by the government and those consultations have been meaningful. We certainly believe they have been adequate.
Also, we have seen that this is something that is necessary for the continued economic prosperity of Yukon and Nunavut. We heard from the Yukon Chamber of Mines that said, specifically on the issues of timelines and significant change, we need to bring the regime in Yukon in line with what is happening in the rest of Canada. It is seeing investment decisions and investment dollars leaving the territory because of the uncertainty that its regulatory regime presents.
We have also seen that the bill is completely 100% compliant with the Umbrella Final Agreement. The minister has asked anyone who has a concern with that to point him to the section of the legislation that violates the Umbrella Final Agreement. No one has been able to do that.
This is the final piece of our northern agenda. It is the final legislative step that we need to take to bring about economic prosperity and growth in the north. We are proud to support the bill.