Evidence of meeting #122 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd 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

Wally Schumann  Minister, Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Department of Infrastructure, Government of the Northwest Territories
Hilda Broomfield Letemplier  Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board
Patrick Duxbury  Advisor, Nunavut Resources Corporation
Yves Robillard  Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Lib.
Tom Zubko  President, New North Networks Ltd.
David Ningeongan  President, Kivalliq Inuit Association
Don Rusnak  Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Lib.

5 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

I know our territorial government did look at river options in the region, but that does not bring up the fibre part of the project. Other options have been looked at, but for us, fibre is the key to allowing our region and the territory to be able to open up that bandwidth—satellite bandwidth—for the rest of Nunavut.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

MP Tootoo.

5 p.m.

Independent

Hunter Tootoo Independent Nunavut, NU

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Rusnak.

Welcome, David.

David is from my hometown. This project he's presenting for us today was probably something that was being talked about when we were teenagers running around Rankin Inlet. That's how long it's been on the books.

Much as we heard earlier, there's a lack of infrastructure. This type of infrastructure will open up the northern region to considerable economic growth and economic development, and will help create and maintain a sustainable economy in the north.

This has been talked about for a long time, and I know your study is well under way. What are some of the key things right now that are critical to getting from where we are now to where we need to get to, to get over the finish line and be able to provide the region with cheap energy and fibre connection?

Thank you, Madam Chair.

5 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

We do have a private partner in place to allow us to move this project forward. Before, we never had that partnership. As well, the urgency is that Agnico Eagle is ready to invest now. The private sector ready to partner and carbon pricing, at the end, are what's going to allow us to move this forward for economic opportunities in the region.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

You have two minutes.

5 p.m.

Independent

Hunter Tootoo Independent Nunavut, NU

For that project it seems as though the stars are all aligning and everything is taking shape where you're having private sector investment plus industry, as they are already operating and willing to contribute to the project as well.

In your comments you mentioned that what you have set up right now with them would help the federal government, with their support, to leverage a considerable amount of private sector funding.

Do you have an idea of what kinds of numbers we're looking at as far as how significant the private sector investment budget for this project would be?

5 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

We had hoped we would have numbers in front of us today. We are hoping that within the next three weeks, after strategic meetings next week, we'll have those numbers available and ready to distribute. I apologize that we do not have those numbers in front of us now.

5 p.m.

Independent

Hunter Tootoo Independent Nunavut, NU

Okay. I know that's always been one barrier: Where's the support from the private sector, rather than not just relying 100% on the government?

Do you have a ballpark figure, like 40%, 50%, or 60%, or whatever it would be, that would come from the private sector, where a portion of the project funding from the federal government would be leveraged from the private sector?

Thank you.

5:05 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

Sure. We are working closely with federal ministers to refine our ask to the federal government for the 2019 federal budget. A federal commitment would allow the Inuit to be a joint-equity partner in this project with the private sector. There needs to be a federal government backstop to support this project. Definitely, we will be looking for grants from the federal government to allow us to move forward with this major project in the central part of Nunavut, in the Kivalliq region.

Again, I cannot give you those numbers at this time.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We've run out of time for you.

We're moving on to MP Arnold Viersen.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to our guests for being here today.

David, is the Grays Bay project close to where you're from? No?

5:05 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

There are other Inuit associations. I'm from the central and they're from the west.

There are three regions: eastern Nunavut, central, and west.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay, so it's not anywhere close. It wouldn't affect you at all.

5:05 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Shucks.

One of the things I've been interested in is the road infrastructure. You were mentioning something about connecting to southern Manitoba. Is that road access? Does that follow along from Churchill? Where would you access Manitoba?

5:05 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

It could be a combination of road or rail coming up from Manitoba into our region. Whether it comes from Churchill, The Pas, or Thompson, that would have to be studied. The Kivalliq Inuit Association applied to the national trades corridor funding to try to access road monies so that we could get two of our communities connected to Rankin Inlet. They're about 70 kilometres north and south of Rankin Inlet. Right now, a 15-minute flight is over $400 to go from Rankin to Chester or Whale Cove. If we had a road between the three communities, it would cost $20 or $40 to drive over. So there's a major gap there. We do need road infrastructure within our Kivalliq communities as well.

Another example is that the people in the communities I just mentioned can't even drive to the mine north of Rankin Inlet, which is 25 kilometres from their home communities. They have to fly in.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay.

How has the carbon tax affected your community?

5:05 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

It will be a challenge, but also it will be an opportunity, because it will allow for development to happen and allow us to go after green energy that we did not have the opportunity to move to in the past. I think the stars are aligned right now to allow us to get this project on the go, if we can get the federal commitment to support this initiative.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Thank you.

Tom, you mentioned that Arctic policy has changed multiple times in your lifetime and in your experience up there.

I was just looking through the book you were handing around here. A lot of activity seemed to happen in the seventies and eighties. Is that first-wave stuff? You said “three times”. Are you seeing anything going on right now in terms of drilling, exploration, or that sort of thing?

From the panel before you, we heard about how the highway up to Tuk dramatically improved things for the community of Tuktoyaktuk. Have you seen a lot more traffic because of it? Is tourism affecting your area? What about mining development, as well?

5:10 p.m.

President, New North Networks Ltd.

Tom Zubko

We don't have much in the way of mining prospects close to us. Our natural resource play is oil and gas. I have a map here that I can show you after the meeting, if you're interested.

There were almost 200 wells drilled in the Beaufort Sea, mostly in the eighties. By the way, there were never any significant incidents arising out of those wells.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Are those wells producing today?

5:10 p.m.

President, New North Networks Ltd.

Tom Zubko

They are not at all, not a single bit.

There were also many wells drilled in the Mackenzie delta area and surrounding areas. The only significant oil and gas play that exists today is Norman Wells, which has been producing oil since 1929. That's the oil field where Alexander Mackenzie noted that there was oil flowing into the Mackenzie River from surface areas along the riverbank. Other than that....

The three periods, by the way, were, first, pre-1977, when the Berger inquiry and the National Energy Board halted potential for development; the second one was the Beaufort Sea development. The third was in about 2000, when the oil companies felt that they probably could run a gas line into the Beaufort and up the valley. Quite a bit of activity ensued, until it became clear that the review process really didn't seem to have any kind of end, and all of the proponents pulled back from all of their activities awaiting some kind of certainty from the environmental and social review that was carrying on.

That went on for six years. It was terrible, in my opinion, and it served no purpose.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

One thing I note coming from northern Alberta is that the oil patch and the logging industry demand roads; they demand Internet service; they demand cell service or, if they can't get those, for sure radio service. There are therefore repeaters being put up and that sort of thing.

Was that the experience in 1977 and 2000; that come hell or high water, they were getting up there, and they would build the road; they would buy the big truck; and they would demand probably radio service at that point? Was that your experience in that time as well?

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

That's a yes or no answer. We're over our time.

5:10 p.m.

President, New North Networks Ltd.