12/05/31 Taptuna: The GN has “approved in principle the Uranium Development Policy for Nunavut”

From Hansard of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut for May 31, 2012

Question 352-3(3): Uranium Mining Issues in Nunavut (Aupaluktuq)

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs.

On October 19 of last year, I asked the minister for an update on the status of the Government of Nunavut’s development of a formal uranium mining policy. At that time, the minister indicated that work was continuing and that the GN would be discussing the issue with Nunavut Tunngavik. Can the minister advise the House today what progress has been made on this issue? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister responsible for Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Madam Premier.

Hon. Eva Aariak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Firstly, I would like to welcome the newest member of the Executive Council sitting on my left, Minister Ell, to the cabinet. Further, my same surname colleague, Minister Arreak, please feel welcome in your new seat here at the legislature.

This is a very good question you have just raised. As most members are aware, there was a uranium mining policy consultation tour that visited Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, and Baker Lake to listen to the concerns of residents. I believe the tour has been concluded.

This mining policy is within the mining field, so I would ask that this question be redirected to the Hon. Minister Taptuna as he is the minister responsible for mineral development. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Madam Premier. The question has been redirected to the Minister of Economic Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for that question. Of course, in February of 2010, as cabinet, we directed our departmental officials to conduct further research and analysis in coordination with our Sustainable Development Committee, which is made up of deputy heads within the various departments.

As the Premier has indicated, we did public consultations in Baker Lake, Iqaluit, and Cambridge Bay. All the input has been received and consolidated into a report. At this time, throughout the processes of making the policy and report public, we have approved in principle the Uranium Development Policy for Nunavut. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Mr. Aupaluktuq, you can direct your supplementary question to either the Premier or Deputy Premier. Mr. Aupaluktuq.

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In reference to the EIA and the question of mining and the Nunavut Impact Review Board, my question is to the minister’s department that has been coordinating the Government of Nunavut’s submissions to the Nunavut Impact Review Board in relation to its review of the proposed Kiggavik uranium mine near Baker Lake. My question is: can the minister highlight the government’s main concerns in relation to this project? If Madam Premier wishes to answer or defer the question over to the Minister of Mines. If I can have some assistance on this. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Madam Premier.

Hon. Eva Aariak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I apparently didn’t understand his question. If it formed part of his question, I want to respond to that part. I assumed he was asking about another matter.

The Nunavut government has been involved in the appointment process for quite a while and has also presented their recommendations under the Part 5 review of NIRB, as per the requirements laid out in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, particularly within Article 12 for the review of the Kiggavik project.

(interpretation ends) NIRB provided a positive conformity determination on the draft environmental impact statement provided by Areva Resources Incorporated. The Government of Nunavut continues to support the existing Nunavut Impact Review Board regulatory process as set out in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and as a comprehensive, inclusive, and effective means of evaluating projects in Nunavut on a case-by-case basis. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (interpretation) That is all for now.

Speaker: Thank you, Madam Premier. Your second supplementary, Mr. Aupaluktuq.

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the hon. member for the responses and updating us on the position of the GN in regard to uranium mining.

The minister has just returned from the annual conference of western premiers. Welcome back. The official communiqué from the conference, which was issued on Tuesday of this week, specifically noted uranium as being a national energy source. Does this mean that the Government of Nunavut fully endorses uranium mining? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister responsible for Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Madam Premier.

Hon. Eva Aariak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When you look at Canada as a whole, these policies are discussed nation-wide, especially when you talk about uranium mining. Some of the provinces actually have uranium mining in various provinces throughout Canada. In that announcement, the Minister responsible for Mines announced that these policies that have been developed for the Nunavut government remain the same and mining will continue to be reviewed (interpretation ends) on a case-by-case basis. (interpretation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Madam Premier. Your final supplementary, Mr. Aupaluktuq.

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for that information as well. It has been reported that the federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has decided not to reappoint the chairperson of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which is currently reviewing the proposed Kiggavik project near Baker Lake. Mr. Speaker, the people of Baker Lake would like to know: can the minister indicate what the Government of Nunavut’s position on this issue is? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Madam Premier.

Hon. Eva Aariak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would prefer if the member clarified his comment because I believe he was talking about a federally mandated responsibility. Just for my own clarification, I would like to ask the member to elaborate a bit further. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Madam Premier. Mr. Aupaluktuq, could you clarify your question, please.

Mr. Aupaluktuq: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The point was in regard to the Kiggavik project near Baker Lake. As we know, NIRB is reviewing this proposed project. The question I wanted to ask was what the GN’s position is on this issue of not reappointing the chairperson of NIRB that’s reviewing the proposed Kiggavik project near Baker Lake. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Aupaluktuq. Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, Madam Premier.

Hon. Eva Aariak (interpretation): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also thank the member for clarifying his question. The Nunavut government generally provides assistance and direction to the federal government when they request advice on certain individuals who have applied for the position.

With respect to the chairperson and with one position having to be appointed by the federal government, along with one representative appointed by NTI, they all have to provide their advice on the appointment of a chairperson and their preferences. Now, this is outside of our control as the Government of Nunavut. Since this is a federal responsibility, we’re basically waiting for the process to become completed. The Nunavut government did notify the federal government about their own choice. We will continue to wait until the process plays itself out. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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About makitanunavut

Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit (Makita) is a Nunavut-based non-governmental organization. Made up of members from Baker Lake and Iqaluit, Makita is dedicated to fostering a critical public discussion about uranium mining in Nunavut.
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