MLA Ron Elliott seeks clarification regarding the Government of Nunavut’s uranium policy

From the Nunavut Hansard, October 26, 2012

Question 433 – 3(3): Government of Nunavut’s Uranium Policy (Elliott)

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct my
questions to the Minister of Economic Development and Transportation.

On June 6, 2012, the minister tabled the Government of Nunavut’s
uranium policy statement. In that statement, it clarified that the
Government of Nunavut will support the exploration and mining of
uranium subject to five principles. My questions are based around
those principles.

Mr. Speaker, Principle 2 of the Government of Nunavut’s uranium policy
states that “Nunavummiut must be the major beneficiaries of uranium
exploration and mining activities.” My question to the minister is:
what policies or mechanisms does the Government of Nunavut have in
place to ensure this will occur? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Economic
Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the member for
that question. Mr. Speaker, it’s written down quite clearly in the
Parnautit strategy for mining and we use those on a case-by-case
basis. That strategy is used by all proponents, all companies, and
throughout the regulatory processes that NIRB goes through with the
proponents and all interested parties. It states that very clearly
there. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your first supplementary, Mr. Elliott.

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Principle 5 states that “Uranium
exploration and mining must have the support of Nunavummiut, with
particular emphasis on communities close to uranium development.” Can
the minister describe what would constitute support for Nunavummiut
and the affected communities? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister for Economic Development and
Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The process is set out
quite clearly in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement through the
regulatory process. If there’s any indication that the project is not
going to be beneficial to Nunavummiut, whether people are going to be
affected, the environment, wildlife, and if the project is not
sustainable, of course, we do have a process that goes through the
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, that being NIRB that goes through the
environmental regulations and processes, and have close consultations
with the communities. The process is based on that. Thank you, Mr.
Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your second supplementary, Mr. Elliott.

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. NTI has a very comprehensive
uranium mining policy, of which certain financial agreements and
arrangements have been attached to certain mining and exploration
companies. This was promised to be reviewed and when that review
occurred, no significant changes were made.

Obviously NTI is in support of uranium exploration, mining, and
development. Is this what the minister is referring to in regard to
support from the communities? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Economic
Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I didn’t necessary allude
to that. NTI has their own policy on uranium exploration and mining
and whatever they do there is up to
them. We abide by the land claims agreement environmental processes
and our own strategy that was developed for Nunavummiut in our
Parnautit strategy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Minister Taptuna. Your final supplementary, Mr. Elliott.

Mr. Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the minister is aware,
residents from Baker Lake, one of the affected communities close to
uranium development, and Grise Fiord had petitions that were
introduced into this House. Both did not support uranium mining.
Again, if the minister could clarify what the Government of Nunavut
means by Principle 5 of the Government of Nunavut’s Uranium Policy
Statement, which states that it will not move forward on uranium
development unless Nunavummiut support it Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Elliott. Minister responsible for Economic
Development and Transportation, Minister Taptuna.

Hon. Peter Taptuna: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, the processes of
environmental regulations and screening are through the Nunavut Land
Claims Agreement. The body of Nunavut Impact Review Board has an
obligation to consult with every community and determine and make
recommendations to the Minster of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development of Canada. Once all the facts are gathered, that’s when
NIRB makes a recommendation to the minister responsible for that.

If, throughout the process, there are indications of environmental
mitigations that can’t be handled by the proponent and if it’s not a
sustainable project, it’s not beneficial to Nunavummiut, those
determinations are made known to the public through the
recommendations of the Nunavut Impact Review Board to the Minister of
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development of Canada 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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