Federal Government Blocks Completion of Nunavut Land Use Plan, Denies Funding for Final Public Consultation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Ottawa) MiningWatch Canada has received copies of sharply worded letters from Percy Kabloona, Chair of the Nunavut Planning Commission, that are addressed to Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), Bernard Valcourt. The letters (attached) chastise the Minister and AANDC for failing to support the final public consultation process of the Nunavut Land Use Plan.
The planning process is a federal commitment under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. It has suffered from underfunding in the past, but the planning commission has managed to make do, until now. The process, which has evolved over several years, is almost complete, with one of the final crucial steps being a public hearing scheduled for November of this year. The letters to the Minister are clear about the implications of not completing the process:
“By continuing to not fund the NPC appropriately and not funding the public hearing and conclusion of the land use planning process the Minister will in essence silence the voice of Inuit, Dene and Métis.”
Kabloona correctly notes that a properly completed land use plan that has the support of Nunavummiut will proactively reduce conflicts over resource development by directing development activities away from sensitive areas. “The people of Nunavut have the right to have the future use of the lands and waters of Nunavut determined in an orderly fashion and the pending Nunavut wide Land Use Plan is designed to provide that framework.”
A priority within the draft plan is the protection of the food resources that sustain northern communities. Under the plan, this would mean constraints on development in key areas like caribou calving grounds.
“If the federal Conservative government had any real intent of living up to its rhetoric around responsible resource development, funding the final hearing of the land use plan would be a no-brainer,” commented Ramsey Hart of MiningWatch Canada. “Refusing to fund this last step in the process flies in the face of the federal government’s legal and policy commitments. It can only lead to future legal battles and conflicts over resource development projects in Nunavut. It’s a lose-lose situation.”
MiningWatch urges Minister Valcourt to make the necessary funding available for the final hearing on the draft land use plan and ensure that the public has an opportunity to meaningfully participate in this important process.
Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, 613-298-4745