To the editor,
At the Conservative Party of Canada’s policy convention last month in Halifax, the three Northern territories were successful in advancing a policy declaration which contains exciting news for the North.
Titled “Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future,” the resolution is an update of the party’s previous position regarding Northern development, but features a new commitment designed to further enable self-determination and self-reliance for territorial and Indigenous governments.
The policy commits the party – should it form government in 2019 – to work towards ensuring the territories “retain 100 per cent of resource royalties” and afford Northerners the same opportunities as our provincial counterparts.
Presently, the three territories in their varying stages of devolution of powers from Canada, have different agreements with complex formulas to determine how much of the benefits of Northern resource development stays in the North, and how much must be returned to Ottawa.
This amended policy however levels the playing field and guarantees that all Northerners benefit from resource activity, and that the revenues go toward supporting strategic investments in nation-building power, communications and transportation infrastructure and enable “Northern solutions to employment, educational, health and social challenges.”
The policy also states “Decisions about the North should be made in the North,” which is in stark contrast to the approach of the current Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with his unilateral decisions to make vast swaths of the Arctic unavailable to economic activity without any consultation with the people who actually live here, imposition of an expensive and ineffective carbon tax on Northerners who have no choice but to heat their homes for most of the year or transport the essential goods required to raise and support our families, and legalization of recreational drugs while offloading the implementation challenges on law enforcement, employers and communities that are already struggling with substance abuse and addictions.
As such, it would appear that allowing Northerners to be masters of their own destiny is not in the Liberals’ “father knows best” approach to governing the North, and the criticism of this new policy from the government benches of the House of Commons is both predictable and insulting to democratically-elected territorial and Indigenous governments and Northerners alike.
The intent of the policy is also clear that the retention of royalties is not to be “clawed back” in a “giving with one hand to take with the other” manner such as how the current sharing formulas are structured, as the policy was developed over a nine-month period in full consultation with the Party’s three Northern riding associations, the Northern Regional Policy Committee, members of the Senate and House of Commons, the Leader’s Office and the National Policy Committee.
Furthermore, it received approximately 99 per cent support on the convention floor from the over 3,000 delegates in attendance representing Conservatives from across the country, and ranked sixth overall out of more than 300 policy proposals that were put forward to convention.
This policy and its intent have the support of Conservatives from coast to coast to coast, and truly offers Northerners a viable alternative to the top-down and Ottawa-centric methods of the Trudeau Liberals, as well as a future for our children in the North we know and love.
Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut
David Connelly, NWT
Jonas Smith, Yukon
National Councillors, Conservative Party of Canada