Harper Government Takes Next Steps to Enhance Environmental Protection and Streamline Regulatory Processes in the North

Aug 27, 2013, 08:20 ET from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

OTTAWA, Aug. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, today announced next steps in consultations related to the federal government's efforts to improve Northern regulatory regimes.

"Last week I had the privilege of joining Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his annual Northern Tour, which provided me another opportunity to hear first hand from Northerners of their desire to benefit from the tremendous natural resources in the Territories," said Minister Valcourt. "Our Government has listened to calls from the territorial governments, Aboriginal leaders, and industry for more predictable regulatory processes that enhance environmental protection, while encouraging exploration and investment. The input received through consultations will help shape legislative improvements before they are introduced in Parliament."

Building on the Northern Jobs and Growth Act, which passed into law in June 2013, the Government of Canada is currently consulting on proposed legislative changes that will help to further advance the 2010 Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes and to implement the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement. Proposed legislative changes include amendments to: the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, the Northwest Territories Waters Act, and the Territorial Lands Act. These include measures that will streamline the regulatory process by placing time limits on environmental assessments and reviews, consolidate federal decision-making, as well as measures that will enhance environmental protection, such as increasing fines.

Packages that include these proposals have been sent to Aboriginal groups in the North, to the territorial governments and to industry.  The Government of Canada is making funding available to Aboriginal groups that wish to apply in order to participate in consultations.

Advancing the Action Plan to Improve Regulatory Regimes will encourage investment while ensuring that resource development occurs sustainably so the resulting economic benefits can be enjoyed by generations of Northerners. Consultations with Aboriginal groups and regulatory boards in the Northwest Territories are ongoing throughout the fall to ensure that stakeholder views are taken into consideration and to fulfill treaty obligations under the land claims agreements. This initiative is both a timely and necessary step to support the full benefits of devolution in the Northwest Territories.

The signing of the final Northwest Territories Devolution Agreement on June 25, 2013, marked a major milestone in the political and economic development of the territory as the Government of the Northwest Territories will gain provincial-like powers over public lands and natural resources - putting more control in the hands of Northerners. Consultations on the legislative proposal to implement and bring into effect the Northwest Territories Devolution Agreement marks the third phase of a three phase approach to S.35 Consultations regarding Devolution.

SOURCE Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada