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MPs Debated Nunavut Regulations

June 7, 2015

This week in the House of Commons, MPs debated Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act. The Government criticized Opposition MPs for politicizing a bill that has broad support. However, Opposition MPs questioned the Government’s ability to garner support for the Bill.

In Wednesday’s debate, Mr. Ryan Leef (Yukon, CPC) criticized Opposition MPs’ politicization of the Bill:

I do take some offence to the opposition’s positions where members have clearly feigned concern for the wants, needs and expectations of the Yukon people broadly and specifically for the Yukon first nations community.

It is a shameful use of Yukon people and northern people for their own political purposes. There is not true care and concern and that point needs to be made crystal clear.

Yvonne Jones (Labrador, Liberal) was also displeased with the debate thus far:

It is certainly a bill that has received a tremendous amount of debate in the House of Commons.

Unfortunately, the debate has been an exercise that has not really reaped the rewards we wanted to see, nor has it seen the real changes the people of the Yukon and the territorial governments wanted to see. In fact, the whole debate itself has hinged on a tremendous amount of misinterpretation.

The debate resumed on Friday, where Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Madawaska—Restigouche, CPC) remarked:

The bill before us today, Bill S-6, is the next example of how we are delivering on our northern strategy. This bill will complete the modernization of regulatory regimes in the north by bringing Yukon and Nunavut’s regulatory regimes up to speed and on par with other Canadian jurisdictions.

There is broad support for the Yukon and Nunavut regulatory improvement act throughout Nunavut. Northerners recognize that consultation has been robust and that the proposed amendments would foster investor confidence, economic opportunities and growth while promoting sound environmental stewardship in the eastern Arctic.

Mr. Murray Rankin (Victoria, NDP) however questioned the Government’s support of the Bill:

I think it first should be noted, this is the first and only day of debate on third reading for Bill S-6, as the government has decided to, once again in an unprecedented way, use time allocation to shut down debate on legislation in this place.

My question to the minister is, how does he say that there is this “broad support” for the legislation when people are talking about lawsuits to stop it and to change the balance that had been created so effectively when YESA was first created?

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.) also questioned the Government’s support of the Bill:

Mr. Speaker, the minister is so confident about the legislation he has brought forward, and yet, as has been pointed out, again through time allocation, is limiting participation, which is somewhat typical of the entire process of the bill.

How does the minister justify bringing forward legislation when he was not able to even come close to achieving any sort of consensus6 To illustrate just how bad it is, the only way the government has been able to pass this thing through to date is through time allocation. If it was not using its majority, it would not be passing the legislation.

Hon. Bernard Valcourt asserted the Bill had complete support:

The fact of the matter is that this bill is fully supported and asked for by the entire legislature of the Yukon. The Government of Yukon supports this bill, asked for its implementation, and what is more important is that all of the provisions in the bill are fully consistent with the letter of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP) however took issue with the Government’s assertion:

I would like to ask the minister to withdraw his comment that this bill is supported by, I think he said, the whole legislative assembly. That is simply not true. He can check the record. It is not true.

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