Moves Like Harper: GNWT’S Ottawa-Like Style

The mining advisory board wants, first and foremost, to keep mining interests happy

The territorial government has come to resemble Ottawa under Stephen Harper in its love of secrecy and willingness to move forward on issues without consultation, says MLA Bob Bromley.

“It’s all very presumptive and Ottawa-like,” Bromley told EDGEYK. com after receiving ITI Minister Dave Ramsay’s answer to a question about the government’s new mining industry advisory board.

Formed earlier this year, the board is the government-industry response to the hard times that have fallen on mining exploration and development in the territory, with the aim of making the NWT a more attractive place to invest.

The area of mineral tenure has fallen from 19.8 per cent to 2.1 per cent since 2007, and the cabinet appears to believe that can be reversed by developing closer ties to the mining sector, said Bromley.

“The reason for lack of investment is the state of the economy globally,” says Bromley, “and there is little to be done that would be the responsibility of this government on behalf of the NWT’s taxpayers.”

Membership on the board will be drawn from senior executives and managers of planned or operating mines, mining exploration companies, or those with at least five years experience with the mining industry.

Industry will pick up the board’s $15,000 annual operating cost. It will meet twice a year and make recommendations to the minister. All discussions will be treated as confidential except where mutually agreed upon.

The territory has come off poorly in annual mining industry surveys conducted by the Fraser Institute, a conservative lobby group, and among the board’s objectives are ensuring “mining regulation is in place to facilitate economic development.”

The board “will provide independent policy and strategic advice to the minister” and help “create an environment that ensures that mines can be developed feasibly and in a timely fashion and improve the potential for producing mines to stay open longer.”

The overall objective is to reduce constraints, including regulatory, on exploration and mining development, and sell the idea that mining is good for the community, Bromley noted.

“There was a time when the first objective of mineral development was ‘to ensure mineral development activities in the Northwest Territories always serve the interests of its peoples.’ I don’t see that here,” says Bromley.

Opinion

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