Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 24, 2014 - 8:20 am

Tory budget bill would merge Canadian Polar Commission, new research station

Legislation sets out governance for Canadian High Arctic Research Station

JANE GEORGE
The Canadian High Arctic Research Station is now under construction in the western Nunavut town of Cambridge Bay — completion is slated for 2017. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
The Canadian High Arctic Research Station is now under construction in the western Nunavut town of Cambridge Bay — completion is slated for 2017. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

The Harper government will merge its $188-million Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay with the Canadian Polar Commission, through legislation embedded within Bill C-43, its omnibus budget bill, the federal government announced Oct. 23.

The project now under construction in Cambridge Bay, was announced in 2012 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The new legislation would create a governance system for CHARS, with the Canadian Polar Commission playing a major role, the release said.

Until now, the Canadian Polar Commission, created in 1991, has served as an advisory body, making recommendations to the federal government on Arctic science policy.

The merger with CHARS appears to create a governance role for the commission.

The news that the Polar Commission and CHARS will be merged comes only a week after an Oct. 15 teleconference in Cambridge Bay, when federal officials in Hull were reluctant to divulge information about a change in management to the Cambridge Bay CHARS steering committee.

During the teleconference, Cambridge Bay hamlet officials asked for confirmation about what they’d heard: that the Polar Commission would be put in charge of CHARS.

But they were only told that this topic would be discussed at the next steering committee meeting in November — and that there would be “no significant” difference for CHARS.

“The project is going to be delivered,” Matthew Hough, the CHARS engineering and project manager, told the Cambridge Bay group.

Members of the Polar Commission, which include no Nunavut residents, are appointed by the federal cabinet to hold office for terms not exceeding three years, and are eligible for re-appointment for a second term of office.

The office of the chairperson is currently vacant, according to information on the Polar Commission’s website.

Its board members include Nellie Cournoyea, Barrie Ford, Martin Fortier, Robert Gannicott, David Hik, Rob Huebert, Maxim Jean-Louis, John Nightingale and Darielle Talarico.

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