Evidence of meeting #79 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was c-55.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Robert C. McLeod  Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories
Christina Burridge  Executive Director, BC Seafood Alliance
Paul Kariya  Senior Policy Advisor, Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative

5:15 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

My understanding was that once the moratorium was put in place, everything stopped, and then it would be reviewed after five years.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

That's not actually the intention. The intention is that whatever is going on today would continue, but things that might go on, for instance oil and gas exploration, would not be allowed to go forward. That's a point that actually a number of people have missed in the interpretation of this bill. It's understandable, because we've had a lot of discussions here at this committee about marine protected areas and what that actually means. This is sort of a halfway step toward that.

When you look at the impact of a decision, even on an interim marine protected area where current activities are allowed to continue, do you see any other negative impacts on your communities of simply maintaining the status quo?

5:15 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

There's no work going on presently, just because of market demands. When it shut down, though, we did see the impacts on our community, especially in the Beau-Del, where people have worked in the industry for pretty well their whole adult working life. There was a real impact on people in the communities.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

The potential, I presume, is oil and gas extraction. Is that your understanding'? Is that really the main potential that there will be discussion about up in the far north?

5:15 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

We have oil and gas deposits up here. We have natural gas in the Beau-Del in the trillions of cubic feet that we can't get to market. It's all trapped in the ground. There was talk a few years ago of building a pipeline for shipping. By the time the joint review panel concluded their two years' worth of review in five years, the price to build a pipeline had made it economically unfeasible and the market was down as well, so they didn't proceed with it.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Hardie Liberal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

At this point, Mr. Chair, I'll share my time with MP McLeod.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Thank you.

Hello, Robert. How are you guys doing? I thought you guys might be here in person, so I rushed over. It's good to see you on TV.

I have a couple of things. You are aware, of course, that there has been a bunch of work contracted out through the IRC for scientific review. There are also a number of potential contracts that are being considered for work that's going to be needed to look at putting in navigational aids and markers, looking at Coast Guard presence, and trying to develop a spill response mechanism so that if anything is happening in the Beaufort Delta, we'll be able to react. You are also aware that two years ago, we had 30 ships come through that channel. Right now, we don't have any oversight.

I am wondering if there have been any discussions between you and IRC, the Inuvialuit, as to the work they are undertaking on the scientific side of things. My understanding is that they want more time, and they want more money. The review is just not going to go far enough, according to them.

5:20 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

Thanks, Michael.

We had hoped to be down there in person, but we are in business planning right now and things are quite [Inaudible—Editor] here. We appreciate this opportunity to present by video conference.

On our discussions with the IRC, we haven't really been able to sit down with them yet to review some of the work they have done and how it might work with some of the work we hope to get done. I take your point that there is going to be an increased need for looking at the coastline with the ships that are going through. Whether that replaces the work that went on during the—

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

My understanding is there's—

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Mr. McLeod, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to shorten your time a bit. We're really out of time. I usually allow the person you ask some time to finish if he's....

Minister, are you finished with your comments?

5:20 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Okay. Sorry about that, Mr. McLeod.

We're now going to Mr. Arnold, please, for five minutes.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank both our witnesses, Minister McLeod and Mr. Dragon, for being here today and being patient with us. It was a trying afternoon for all of us here.

Your discussions have focused a lot around oil and gas development. I'm just wondering if there's also the opportunity or possibility for mining operations. We see in other areas of the north there are mining operations in the ocean for gold and possibly other minerals.

Are those a possibility for revenue generation for the Northwest Territories as well?

5:20 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

In the southern part of the Northwest Territories, there are a number of developed mines, so they're doing the work there. I know a few years ago in the community of Paulatuk, which is in the Inuvialuit settlement region, they were doing some exploration for diamonds as well. I'm not sure how that work went because they had not reported on anything, but they said there were some positive signs there and we were hoping they were to develop it. Any opportunities we have to develop our industry other than oil and gas we most certainly will take a look at, and we welcome.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

On the creation of MPAs, what activities do you see that typically take place in or on our oceans that generate significant revenue, especially in the Northwest Territories?

5:20 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

Offshore oil and gas drilling would be the biggest creator of revenue. We don't have a fishing industry off the Beau-Del coast. They tried a pilot project a few years ago. They brought in a boat and tried to do some private fishing. I'm not sure what the results were. It was a private enterprise. I don't see the boat there anymore, so I'm assuming that it didn't go as well as they had anticipated. Then there's tourism. We just opened the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, and if any of you have an opportunity, you'd better get up there and take a drive. It's an absolutely gorgeous piece of work. That's going to increase the tourism potential and the number of Canadians getting up to Tuktoyaktuk like you wouldn't believe.

November 27th, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Thank you for mentioning that. When we were in Tuktoyaktuk, one of the concerns was the highway and it was going to bring in tourism and tourists with their own private boats and so on.

Part of the MPA that had been created up there, in consultation with the community, was to protect the indigenous harvest of beluga whales, and so on, and they're concerned that tourism coming into that area could have a negative impact and a negative public relations issue for them.

Do you see that MPAs could be a possible bonus or deterrent to current indigenous practices, especially considering that the interim measures within Bill C-55 only take in the last years of activities within the areas of interest?

5:25 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

I'm not sure how much of an impact all the tourists coming to Tuktoyaktuk may have on their traditional activities. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation have very strong management boards and they take great steps in protecting a lot of the management under their watch, so it may have some.... It's hard to say right now, but I think the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and the community of Tuktoyaktuk will go to great lengths to protect their traditional lifestyle.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mel Arnold Conservative North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Could any other significant revenue sources be considered if MPAs are put in place and would exclude oil and gas or mining development?

5:25 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

Through the territorial government, they've been working on their economic opportunity strategy trying to come up with plans for different types of revenue generation in a lot of the communities, but people will try to develop a lot of local economies. There's not much to be said for trapping anymore and the economic benefits it will bring. It does bring a lot because we have a fairly good system in place.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Scott Simms

Thank you, Minister.

Thank you, Mr. Arnold.

Go ahead, Mr. Stetski, for the remainder.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thank you, Mr. McLeod and Mr. Dragon. Again I express appreciation for your patience this afternoon.

As you know, Canada has signed onto the Aichi agreement, the target of which is to set aside 17% of Canada's land and 10% of our marine areas by 2020, and on the marine side, we're just a little over 3% now nationally.

Some of the testimony I heard when I was with the environment committee was that marine protected areas would help protect traditional ways of life for indigenous people. From your perspective, what would need to happen for marine protected areas to be desirable? What is your perspective?

5:25 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

From our perspective, we value our marine areas in the Northwest Territories, in the Beaufort Delta. Over the years since oil and gas was first discovered in the Beau-Del, the people living in the Beaufort delta have done a fine job of balancing the economic opportunities with the traditional lifestyle we've had and continue to have.

We have meetings quite regularly with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, so the quick answer to your question is that we value our offshore.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Assuming there are new marine protected areas established in the Arctic, what do you think the role should be of the indigenous guardian program in terms of helping enforce rules and regulations in marine protected areas going forward? Should that be part of Bill C-55 explicitly, guaranteeing a future for indigenous guardians going forward?

5:30 p.m.

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories

Robert C. McLeod

We have had some discussions on the guardianship program, and there is a lot of value to that. As I said earlier, Wayne, the Inuvialuit through their management boards with the Government of the Northwest Territories through our environmental and natural resources division are all quite aware of some of the impacts that some of the decisions might have. The guardianship program is an interesting one. It's one we're pursuing because we've heard from a couple of other indigenous organizations in the southern part of the Northwest Territories that would like to have that program. I believe there is some federal interest in that as well.