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Evidence of meeting #7 for Natural Resources in the 41st 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

Mitch Bloom  Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
Janet King  Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Sara Filbee  Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Okay, thank you.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Leon Benoit

Ms. Day, go ahead.

October 17th, 2011 / 4:50 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

It is said that, in the oil and gas industry, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is working with the aboriginal governments and communities. Could you tell us how the roles, the terms, the rules, and the tasks are divided between your department and the communities?

Did you understand my question?

4:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

Do you mean between communities specifically?

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I'm talking about aboriginal communities.

4:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

In every region, we have a consultation framework for discussions with all the aboriginal communities.

So embedded in the regulatory framework is the requirement to consult. As Sara was saying, there's a requirement to consult with first nations communities.

On many aspects we consult directly with the first nations communities on their broad interests in both the regulatory process and the environmental and social impacts. One example, as I mentioned earlier, is BREA, our current regional environmental assessment work. We're working quite closely and in full partnership with the Inuvialuit communities, in this case to elaborate gaps, priorities, and interests so that we can pursue and invest in knowledge acquisition to assist in answering some of their questions and issues pertaining to oil and gas development.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

If a community does not agree with the outcome, who has the right of veto?

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

What do you mean by “right of veto”?

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Who decides? If an aboriginal community does not agree with the outcome, who decides? Which side carries more weight? Do aboriginal communities ever disagree?

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

First, we try to conclude an agreement. If we can't come to an agreement,

the responsible minister for the different acts would have the final decision-making authority on a proposal moving forward in the appropriate regulatory regime. There are many mechanisms along the way for appropriate engagements with the first nations communities.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I have one last question. When there is an invitation to tender while an environmental study is being conducted, do you wait for the results of that study before deciding who will obtain the contract? Does that consideration play a key role?

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

Could you repeat the question?

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

If there is an invitation to tender for a project—

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

In the oil and gas industry?

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I'm talking about an invitation to tender in the oil industry and the decision about who should be awarded the contract. When an environmental study is under way, do you wait for its results before deciding which company will obtain the contract?

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

We certainly have the results of the environmental assessments before any project decision is taken.

Does that answer your question?

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

So you are telling me that you do wait for the results. However, an environmental study can take a while.

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

Yes, every time there is an environmental study for a specific project,

we wait until it's finished.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Leon Benoit

Thank you, Ms. Day.

We go now to Mr. Anderson for five minutes, followed by Mr. Trost.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, folks, for coming today.

I want to talk a little bit about the Beaufort regional environmental assessment that was announced in 2010. I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that and how you see it supporting regulatory decision-making in the future.

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

The Beaufort regional environmental assessment--for quick reference we call it BREA--is, to my view, a very innovative partnership where our department is sitting down together with the Inuvialuit leadership, with the private sector, to elaborate, look at, the potential for a strategic regional environmental assessment in the region. Some of the investment has been, as I just mentioned, directed towards acquiring information, new knowledge, that any one of those proponents has identified as a gap. So we've sat down at the community level, for example, with the Inuvialuit and worked in the overall governance of the program to bring those gaps and interests to discussion with the private sector, with the leadership, the first nations leadership, and in our role as well. Blending those together we are moving forward on a research program that's already been launched, again, pursuing the gaps in knowledge identified by both the Inuvialuit and the private sector, the communities, the local leadership--so investing there in the knowledge.

We're also organizing to have all of that information, all of the information acquired, to be easily accessible to all interested participants as well. So all new information coming in will be posted in language and in a structure that will be accessible to all interested participants.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Do you expect that filling those gaps then will deal with some of the issues and concerns that we hear raised about resource development in that area?

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

Particularly since they've been identified, the challenges have been identified by those interested in those challenges, yes.

5 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Okay.

I'd like to move further south. You had a short section at the end about some of the development in southern Canada.

In the development of a modernized on-reserve oil and gas regime, I understand there have been some significant improvements made in terms of environmental protection. I'm just wondering if you can tell me a little bit more about this. What are those improvements and how do they compare with the off-reserve requirements?