Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 08, 2017 - 10:00 am

Nunavut senator says SCC ruling bodes well for devolution talks

“True reconciliation means giving Inuit the option to choose development"

“I hope that this ruling will help ensure that Nunavut is given control of our offshore as devolution negotiations continue,” Patterson said Aug. 2.
“I hope that this ruling will help ensure that Nunavut is given control of our offshore as devolution negotiations continue,” Patterson said Aug. 2.

Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson says the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling against a seismic testing project proposed for the waters off Baffin Island reaffirms Inuit rights to the offshore and bodes well for the territory’s devolution talks with Ottawa.

“I hope that this ruling will help ensure that Nunavut is given control of our offshore as devolution negotiations continue,” Patterson said in a statement released by his office Aug. 2.

“As a coastal people, [Inuit] should have a say in projects that occur in their offshore waters and target the rich resources there as their traditions, food sources, and livelihoods are all inextricably linked to the marine areas in question.”

On July 26, the SCC overturned a 2014 decision from the National Energy Board that authorized a five-year seismic testing project in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait that would search for potential oil and gas deposits.

The proposed seismic testing was to be conducted within Canada’s 200-mile offshore economic zone, but outside the Nunavut Settlement Area, which extends only as far Canada’s 12-mile territorial waters boundary.

Jerry Natanine, the former mayor of Clyde River, the Hamlet of Clyde River and the Nammautaq Hunters and Trappers Organization had gone to the Supreme Court to appeal a Federal Court of Appeal decision that upheld the NEB’s decision on Clyde River.

Patterson praised the conciliatory remarks that Natanine made in Ottawa after the SCC released its decision, when he said Inuit are still open to discussing the project, so long as they are given adequate consultation to make an inform decision.

“True reconciliation means giving Inuit the option to choose development if that is what they want to do,” Patterson said, citing comments from Clyde River’s lawyer, Nader Hassan, who said Inuit were not “anti-development” during hearings at the Supreme Court last winter.

New negotiations for Nunavut’s devolution were announced following the election of the Trudeau government in 2015 and the appointment of a new federal negotiator, Fred Caron.

The previous negotiations, which—along with the federal government—also include representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Government of Nunavut, stalled when Ottawa refused to deviate from earlier devolution formulas granted to the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna said in April that he would like to have a devolution agreement-in-principle in place with Ottawa before his government’s term ends later this year.

Patterson has weighed into land development in Nunavut prior to the SCC ruling, coming out against protections against resource exploration contained in the Nunavut Planning Commission’s draft Nunavut Land Use plan.

Patterson is also critical of the moratorium on offshore gas and oil drilling enacted by the Trudeau government in 2016.

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(6) Comments:

#1. Posted by Common Sense on August 08, 2017

Anyone who thinks the territory is on track for devolution is high on glue. There is no way Nunavut can sustain itself without help from the Federal Government. Where will the money come from that will sustain the territory? Eventually mining will die out here eventually because it will become too expensive. What other economies are here in Nunavut?

#2. Posted by Funny on August 08, 2017

Funny how Nunavut always seems to go the in the opposite direction from other jurisdictions in Canada. These days, with growing deficits, provinces and the Feds are always looking for ways to offload (devolve) responsibilities to cut costs. But, in Nunavut, we want to take on more along with the associated costs… No one has ever explained how devolution is going to help us is a real practical way. Will it bring more revenue? Pay for more homes? Pay for better healthcare or infrastructure?  What’s in it for us except just taking on more responsibilities??

#3. Posted by Scotty on Denman on August 08, 2017

I object to the use of terms like “devolution’ because, although technically correct, it’s too vague and risks offending sensibilities it doesn’t intend to. The negotiations are about a new administrative arrangement between Nunavut citizens and their sovereign government in Ottawa. “Devolution” might mean the Territory assumes some of the federal authority, or possibly anticipates confederation as a province, or applying immediately for confederation, or exercising provincial right (presuming it ever is one) to secede. Ottawa must recognize aboriginal rights in whatever course so-called devolution takes and, owing to the predominance, regional ubiquity and historical relevance of Inuit people in the jurisdiction, fulfilling this obligation will always use a different calculus than had been extended Aboriginals when provinces were confederated. When will Nunavut afford eligibility to confederate?

#4. Posted by let the research begin on August 08, 2017

#3 maybe what was once a round table of confederation will become separated and independent, under a state or community of their own sovereign government.  Devolution is the beginning of change and Nunavut is the last land mass to be recognized in Canada.  Devolution of Nunavut vs the government of Canada.  The courts will decide.

#5. Posted by Scotty on Denman on August 09, 2017

#4: Nunavut is a territory of the sovereign state of Canada. There is no intermediary provincial sovereignty and, since the Aboriginal nation has treated with Canada, there is no competing sovereign claim to the Crown’s. Short of unilateral separation—-which would not be recognized by the international community—-the only way Nunavut can become sovereign, “separated and independent,” is to first confederate so it has the capacity—-that is, it becomes sovereign but shares as much of that sovereignty is is required to be part of the federation—-then, second, to demonstrate democratic approval of suceding by way of a referendum specifically on the matter (that is, not by way of a general election platform)where the question complies with the Clarity Act. These accommodations exist in constitutional and statutory law. What’s for the courts to decide?

#6. Posted by the lighter side of life on August 09, 2017

#5 the thought of a once held confederation separated for independence was about the one day, way into the future possibility, when confederation, the monarch, may become invalid and nonessential in Canada; and Canada may become an ancient word no longer used like “Dominion of Canada”.  One day, way into the future, the courts will decide…or a referendum…or a war…or a religion or…

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