QP – Oil and Gas Moratorium
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change
November 7, 2017
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Welcome, minister. I’d like to ask about the Arctic.
Over the past month, evidence shows that international interest in Arctic oil is mounting. Meanwhile, Canada has imposed an oil and gas moratorium in the Arctic and now seeks to enable the federal minister to designate an interim marine protected area without consultation, thereby prohibiting certain classes of activity that they see fit to prohibit through Bill C-55.
These are moves that just last week, N.W.T. Premier Bob McLeod, who is indigenous, described as a colonial attack on the territory, issues that the Premier of Nunavut also raised when the moratorium was first announced in December 2016, to the surprise of Premier Taptuna, who is also indigenous — surprise, Minister McKenna, resulting from a total lack of consultation.
We’ve heard even from the Prime Minister that there is indeed no relationship as important to the government as their relationship with indigenous people. Why does the government continue to impose this moratorium that, at a quick count, contravenes two devolution agreements, one devolution agreement in principle and two comprehensive land claim agreements with Inuit?
Hon. Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: I’d like to thank the honourable senator for his question. There is no relationship more important than our relationship with indigenous peoples. I was extremely proud this summer to be in the High Arctic to make the announcement with the Inuit communities about Tallurutiup Imanga. That’s Inuktitut for Lancaster Sound, where we protected 2 per cent of our oceans working hand in glove with the Inuit peoples, and that’s the way forward.
We are working with the Gwich’in to make it clear to the United States government that we do not support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
I certainly agree we need to be working in partnership. We also need to be making sure that there are economic opportunities for indigenous peoples. Once again, the environment and the economy go together. I’m pleased that I will be at COP23 in Bonn in a few days working with indigenous leaders from across the country. We were able to successfully get recognition of indigenous rights and traditional knowledge in the Paris Agreement, and we’re working very hard to announce an indigenous peoples platform to bring countries around the world around the importance of working in true partnership with indigenous peoples.