Copyright © 2019 Senator Dennis Patterson.

Senator Patterson’s Public Comments on DNLUP

Presented at the Regional Pre-Conference Hearing

Iqaluit, NU

November 7, 2016

Good afternoon. My name is Dennis Patterson and I am a resident of Iqaluit. I should clarify that I am not speaking on behalf of the Government of Canada.

I have been the Senator for Nunavut for seven years. In a previous career, I was also a four-term MLA and minister in the territorial government and involved in the negotiation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

The Commission has encouraged participants to speak their minds about your work and I intend to do just that. I should say, however, that I understand and respect that there has been a lot of work done over many years to get us to where we are today.

When I read the NPC’s Draft Land Use Plan released in June, 2016, I was happy to see that, on page 18, section 1.3, the plan stated that an overall goal of the plan and guiding principle was “…achieving economic well-being of communities”. I support the NPC’s statement that this goal “…is integral in the Nunavut Land Claim’s objective of encouraging self-reliance and diverse economic opportunities for Nunavummiut and all Canadians and will arise from a long-term, healthy, sustainable, renewable and non-renewable resource economy.” This was reinforced by your Chair in his opening remarks this morning.

I believe this noble goal spelled out in the NLCA is very important for our rapidly growing population – there were 893 live births in Nunavut in 2013 (an average of more than one baby born every day in the Baffin Regional Hospital) in a territory struggling with unemployment and poverty and very daunting social and health indicators.

However, I believe that the current plan unfortunately fails to achieve this stated goal. I believe that in spite of the promise of our developing fishery, arts and crafts, filmmaking, and tourism industries as well as the government and service sectors, it is the mining and resource development industry – capitalizing on our rich mineral resource potential and subject to a rigorous regulatory process which gives Inuit a strong voice in giving every development project rigorous social, environmental and economic review – that still holds the greatest potential for much needed revenue and job creation in the territory.

Agnico Eagle currently employs 265 people at its Meadowbank mine in the Kivalliq Region, 34% of which are Inuit. At Baffinland, here in the Qiqiktani Region, 21% of the 27,000 working days worked were completed by Inuit, and, in the Kitikmeot, a new mine now nearing completion at Hope Bay by TMAC Resources is estimated to generate 1,822 person years until 2021.

In an effort to better understand the DNLUP, my office undertook some research based on the GIS data made available on the NPC website. What I found, was confusing.

Firstly, there is no consistency in the values used to determine or define designations between the 2014 and the 2016 drafts. There was very extensive public input into the 2014 draft Land use Plan. So we need to understand how it has been changed in the 2016 draft.

Expert researchers told me specifically that “the Designations and Valued Components layers contained some incompatible values” making the direct comparison of 2014 and 2016 GIS data impossible. This concern was echoed by the Government of Nunavut, according to NPC’s Summary of the Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan Pre-hearing conference in September, 2016. The GN according to NPC, “…would like to have a rationale document that shows the differences between the 2014 and 2016 versions of the draft plan.”[1]

Going, then, to a more simplistic form of comparison, I can see a major difference in the amount of green-coloured areas, which the legend identifies as “protected” and yellow “special management” areas. In 2014, there is no specific “mixed-use” designation so it was assumed that yellow indicated mixed use areas, while in the 2016 version the yellow has all but disappeared and a separate colour has been used to denote “mixed use” separate of Special Management areas.

I found the many colours and convoluted legends distracting so I asked my researchers to give me a map of Nunavut, based on the 2016 DNLUP, which showed only the areas of high mineral potential and the areas covered by designations. What I found was very disappointing. It became readily apparent that almost all the proposed roads or shipping routes (the plan euphemistically calls them ‘linear infrastructure’) that would be needed to access these deposits are fully or partially covered by protected and/or special management areas. In contrast to the 2014 DNLUP, the very rich Slave Geological Province in the Kitikmeot Regions, and areas of identified high mineral potential in the Kivalliq Region are also, from the maps, very clearly off limits to development.

This is neither balanced nor sustainable.

But the impacts of these changes are not limited to the resource sector. The Kitikmeot Inuit Association has been quite vocal of what they call an “environmental plan”. On October 5, 2016, at their Annual General Meeting, KIA president, Stanley Anablak, lamented the limitations that this plan would have on the KIA’s ability to manage and benefit from their share of Inuit Owned Land. Similarly, on several occasions, the Kivalliq Inuit Association has discussed their malcontent with the proposed blocking of their much-sought after road and hydro line between the region and Manitoba, a project which has been discussed and consulted upon for decades in that region.

I also note, with interest, that these proposed projects were included in the 2014 draft that was toured to communities and generally agreed upon, but were noticeably absent in the 2016 draft, which seems to have surprised many of the community leaders.[2]

I have heard the retort that proposals could be submitted to amend the plan after it is accepted.[3]However, this is certainly not as simple a feat as some have made it out to be. The NLCA is very explicit in Section 11, Part 6 – it is a long, costly process that requires an initial screening by the NPC, followed by public consultation, recommendations to the Minister, and the Minister’s final decision. This process is enough to dissuade proponents from even attempting an amendment either due to a limitation of resources or the uncertainty of so many layers of scrutiny and approval required.

I am also astonished that another major transportation corridor, which has been discussed and worked on for years in the Kitikmeot Region – the Grays Bay Port and Road which follows the long discussed Bathurst Inlet Port and Road – does not appear to be acknowledged or provided for in the DNLUP.[4]

As I will explain in expressing my equally strong concerns about the process which has been established by the NPC, this amendment route will be complex, costly and time consuming. Further, by designating these areas as protected or special management areas, the DNLUP has sent a clear negative signal to the investment community that there are major unknown and time consuming hurdles to overcome in order to explore for or develop minerals or build infrastructure corridors.

Having to apply for an amendment to the DNLUP seems to me like having a reverse onus of proof in litigation – in this case, the onus is on the investor or developer to prove that a decision of the Commission to protect these huge areas from development should be reversed.

This plan, even though it is only a draft, has sent a chill through the mining investment community in Nunavut and Canada. This is, in my respectful opinion, unacceptable and must be corrected by the Commission before any public hearing on a draft land use plan is scheduled, especially if that process is going to be rushed over the forthcoming holiday season and early in 2017, as certainly seems to be the present stated intention of the Nunavut Planning Commission.

I would respectfully submit that the voices of discontent from two of the three Regional Inuit Associations should be cause to slow the process down. Not only that, but the Government of Canada has also raised questions about the clarity and uncertainty that exists in the plan and proposed a technical and legal review and redrafting of the plan prior to the Public Hearing.[5] Justice Canada suggested that more time is needed to complete 6 important tasks before the public hearing, including creating another draft and discussing it amongst everyone.[6]

I ask you today – would it not be more prudent to ensure that there is a plan that is generally accepted by all the major stakeholders in place before we engage in a rushed and costly final public hearing?

As you must know, there have also been many concerns raised about the process surrounding the development of plan and the lead up to the public hearings in March.

First, the timeline:

Expert reports (with Executive Summaries in four languages) must be filed and served (this is a very legalistic process) before the Commissioners by November 15 of this year.

January 13, 2017 – (not long after Christmas, when both the territorial government and NTI and its family both customarily have holidays for all their employees) is the final deadline to file and serve digital copies of written submissions in four languages on the draft NLUP.

March 6, 2017 – Participants must deliver to the NPC – 60 copies in English, 20 in French, 20 in Innuinaqtun and 100 in Inuktitut – hard copies of any documents to be used at the public hearing.

March 7, 2017 – the deadline for filing and serving questions on the NLUP participants want Commissioners to ask staff at the Public Hearing.

March 21-28, 2017 – proposed final public hearing in Iqaluit.

This process is clearly rushed, and the present timetable does not include, as the NPC itself noted, what the Government of Canada has described as “…appropriate opportunities to review and discuss the changes that will occur as the planning process continues. A collaborative approach is more likely to result in a draft that can be recommended for approval. The Government of Canada is recommending the NPC incorporates into the planning process opportunities to seek alignment on key issues.”

The present rushed timetable does not allow this process to take place, even though the three principal stakeholders – the GOC, NTI and the GN – expressed their willingness to work together on what the GN identified and what the NPC itself described as “outstanding” issues, including “…caribou protection, transportation, sustainable economic development, IQ incorporation, RIA feedback, and being able to see rationale for the land use decision.”[7]

In conclusion, it seems to me very clear that under the present proposed timetable, communities have complained that they don’t have the time or resources to do this final round of community consultations properly. The plan must also be redrafted to address many concerns which have been expressed about omissions and changes in the 2016 draft. The public hearing process should be halted to allow this to take place.

If the necessary time is not taken to allow all this to be done, I believe that, right now, there is a real prospect of the major stakeholders, whose endorsement is required for the plan to be adopted, ultimately rejecting the plan.

We have been waiting a long time for a plan. But that doesn’t mean we should rush now. As the Mayor of Iqaluit recommended today, let’s take the necessary additional time to get the plan right.

[1] “Summary of the Draft Nunavut Land use Plan Pre-hearing conference, September 27-29, 2016”, p.7

[2] As the NPC notes in its “Summary of the Draft Nunavut Land use Plan Pre-Hearing conference, September 27-29, 2016”, the government of Canada, whose consent is required for the DNLUP to become final, identified 5 key issues of concern, including “…that the restrictions and requirements for territorial infrastructure are overly restrictive, given the potential for terrestrial linear infrastructure development to provide opportunities and benefits to Nunavut.” P.7

[3] “The Nunavut Land Use Plan does not set up parks, or permanent protected areas, but rather temporary land designations,” states Paul Crowley, Director of WWF Canada’s Arctic Program in an email to CBC. “Individuals and companies with serious projects can apply for an amendment to the plan, and the whole plan itself is reviewed every five years.” CBC news, October 3, 2016.

[4] These concerns were expressed by NTI, whose consent is required if the DNLUP is to become final, as noted in the Nunavut Planning commission’s own “Summary of Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan Pre-Hearing conference, September 27-29, 2016” and also by the Government of Canada, p.7

[5] NPC “Summary of Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan Pre-Hearing conference, September 27-29, 2016”, p. 7

[6] NPC “Summary of Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan Pre-Hearing conference, September 27-29, 2016””, pp. 5-6

[7] NPC “Summary of Draft Nunavut Land Use Plan Pre-Hearing conference, September 27-29, 2016”, p. 2