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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Issue 12 - Evidence


OTTAWA, Tuesday, October 20, 1998

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, to which was referred Bill C-29, to establish the Parks Canada Agency and to amend other Acts as a consequence; and Bill C-38, to amend the National Parks Act (creation of Tuktut Nogait National Park), met this day at 8:35 a.m. to give consideration to the bills.

Senator Ron Ghitter (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, we have a busy agenda this morning.

We will deal with Bill C-29 first. I believe honourable senators have in front of them the fourth report of the committee which, if it meets with the satisfaction of the committee, I propose to table this afternoon in the chamber.

I believe it sets out the representations that were presented to the committee as a result of our public hearings concerning Bill C-29, to establish the Parks Canada Agency. Perhaps we could take a moment to look through it, to see that the wording meets the intent of the committee after its deliberations following our public hearings.

Are there any comments?

Senator Fitzpatrick: Mr. Chairman, I have had an opportunity to review the draft report. It is certainly acceptable to me. I have no comments or questions. A good job was done in its preparation.

The Chairman: In that case, Senator Fitzpatrick, would you like to move that it be adopted?

Senator Fitzpatrick: I so move, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chairman: I will table the report this afternoon.

We intend to bring forward some amendments that would incorporate the recommendations contained in this report. They will be brought forward, with due notice, to the chamber this afternoon or tomorrow. Some of us feel that the recommendations are of excellent merit and we would like to see them proposed by way of amendments.

Honourable senators, we will now begin our discussion on Bill C-38, which is a bill to create the Tuktut Nogait National Park. We have as our first witness today Mr. Kevin McNamee. Mr. McNamee, who is with the Canadian Nature Federation, is well known to this committee.

Mr. McNamee, please proceed.

Mr. Kevin McNamee, Wildlands Campaign Director, Canadian Nature Federation: Honourable senators, I should like to summarize, if I may, some of the points in our brief, copies of which you have before you.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the establishment of Tuktut Nogait National Park. I have about 15 years of experience in working on issues related to the establishment and management of national parks and the building of one of the world's finest national parks system.

The Canadian Nature Federation is a national conservation organization having over 40,000 members and supporters across Canada, which includes northern Canada. The focus of the wildlands program is on completion of the national terrestrial park system by the year 2000.

The creation of Tuktut Nogait National Park is an important step toward this goal, which has been endorsed by the House of Commons and a number of its major political parties.

The Canadian Nature Federation supports the passage of Bill C-38 unamended. It finally establishes Tuktut Nogait National Park under the National Parks Act. It also implements section 3.1 of the June 1996 Tuktut Nogait agreement to establish a national park, which section states that the government shall "take such steps as are necessary to add the Park to the schedule of the National Parks Act." At the 1998 annual general meeting of the Canadian Nature Federation, our membership unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the Senate of Canada to pass Bill C-38 without amendment.

We also urge the Senate not to support the proposed removal of over 410 square kilometres of land from this national park for the following reasons. The first is the potential impact of mineral development on the calving grounds of the Bluenose caribou heard. The second is the loss of the important ecological and recreational values of this area to the park. The last reason is the precedent that such a decision could set for the rest of the country's federal and provincial protected areas, in particular, the seven national parks not covered by the National Parks Act.

I would like to touch briefly on the values of Tuktut Nogait National Park. I believe it is important to give you a sense of this area.

Tuktut Nogait will be Canada's newest national park. Its 16,340 square kilometres will make it our fifth largest park. It is located south of the Beaufort Sea in the Northwest Territories in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. It represents the Tundra Hills Natural Region, one of 39 natural regions Parks Canada is trying to represent in its system.

The park plays a critical role in helping to preserve Canada's diversity through the protection of the Bluenose caribou herd and other natural values.

In 1992, the Canadian Wildlife Service summarized some of the outstanding features of this park. First, the central part of the Melville Hills escaped glaciation during the last glacial period. It therefore acted as a refugium for wildlife, making it a unique area on the Arctic mainland.

Second, almost all of the large and small streams as they descend from the uplands have cut deep canyons into the bedrock, making for some spectacular landscapes.

Third, the Melville Hills are an important calving ground for the Bluenose caribou herd whose protection the report states is "imperative to maintain the viability of this herd".

Fourth, there is a remarkable concentration of tundra peregrine falcons, a vulnerable species found within this park.

Make no mistake, this is also a unique national park in that it was a community that initiated the idea for it. Typically, most national parks are first identified by the federal government. Inuvialuit representatives chose the national park option over two other conservation scenarios, the use of caribou protection measures and a national wildlife area. They chose the park because it could prevent industrial development.

The Canadian Nature Federation has supported the establishment of this national park since 1990. Our role has been, among other things, promoting its ecological and cultural values to Canadians and politicians; advocating the protection of the proposed park from any further industrial dispositions; and travelling at the invitation of the major parties to Paulatuk to celebrate the signing of the park agreement in 1996. We also testified in support of Bill C-38 before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Before I go on to discuss why we do not support the exclusion of land from this park, it is very important to state that we testify today with some trepidation, as it brings us into conflict with Inuvialuit leaders who have requested the change in the park's boundary. Again, make no mistake, the Inuvialuit have played a leadership role in conservation and national parks.

Almost 40,000 square kilometres -- 17 per cent of Canada's national parks system -- has been protected in three national parks because of the Inuvialuit. Tuktut Nogait exists primarily because of the support of the community of Paulatuk. The CNF applauds the Tuktut Nogait agreement as a model park agreement. It is a consensus agreement developed in part through the use of door-to-door surveys of Paulatuk residents who confirmed a mandate to negotiate the park and its proposed boundary. It is the product of seven years of consultation and negotiations with the federal and territorial government. It was clear from the signing ceremonies in Paulatuk and a presentation to the World Conservation Congress in 1996 that it is one of which Paulatuk is very proud.

I should like to turn to the proposed deletion. In June 1998, the House of Commons defeated a motion to amend Bill C-38 in order to reduce the size of the park by approximately 415 square kilometres. This is equivalent to the size of Terra Nova, or Kejimikujik, or Waterton Lakes National Park.

This proposal was made to permit Darnley Bay Resources Limited of Toronto to explore and possibly develop a mine and that portion of the mineral anomaly that occurs within the national park, which is clearly outlined in the first figure on page 4 of our brief.

This proposed deletion is about 2.5 per cent of the park. However, it is important that this committee not jump to the conclusion that just because it is a small percentage of the park that it has no value. In fact, this area has high ecological value and should remain a part of the park.

I would like to go into a couple of the details as to why the Canadian Nature Federation cannot support the proposed reduction.

The first is that the area proposed to be excised from the park is clearly part of the core calving grounds of the Bluenose caribou herd. Ten years of field observations and radio and satellite collaring data support the fact that this area has been and is currently being used as the calving grounds, the nursery of the Bluenose caribou herd. While the exact location of the calving grounds may move around from year to year, they concentrate in this area.

The draft co-management plan for the Bluenose caribou herd contains an important statement that is pertinent to this issue. It states:

...pre-calving/calving/post-calving range areas are the most important habitats within the larger Bluenose caribou herd range, and the least tolerant to disturbance;

Second, there are other ecological and recreational values here. For example, the area proposed for deletion includes part of the Hornaday River Valley. This would be a critical loss to the park because it contains char spawning habitat and some of the cliffs important to nesting peregrine falcons; as well it would probably be the main entry route for visitors.

Third, the parties to the Tuktut Nogait national park agreement, as well as conservation groups in the mining industry, were informed in 1994 by the Geological Survey of Canada that the portion of the Darnley Bay anomaly within the park boundary was assigned a rating of moderate to high mineral potential, as indicated in figure 2 of our brief. Natural Resources Canada informed us at the beginning of June 1994 that this action had been taken due to the acquisition of new information provided by mineral interests between 1992 and 1994.

Thus, the 1996 Tuktut Nogait agreement constitutes a conscious decision to include within the park a portion of the Darnley Bay anomaly that was rated as having moderate to high mineral potential. I am not a geologist, nor am I an expert in the field of mineral assessments. However, when I read the information published then, and by Darnley Bay later, the new information gathered by the Darnley Bay 1997 aeromagnetic survey -- which has prompted this request to change the park boundary -- confirms what was known back in 1994, that is, that this part of the park does have high mineral potential.

If the boundary of Tuktut Nogait National Park is changed to permit mineral activities on what is now national parkland, it will send a clear signal to development interests that national parks not under the act can be reduced in size to facilitate industrial development. Reducing Tuktut Nogait could result in open season on the seven other national parks not covered by the act. I refer to Pacific Rim, Pukaskwa, Gros Morne, Grasslands, Bruce Peninsula, Wapusk and Aulavik, all of which account for 13 per cent of the national parks system.

I wish to conclude with one final point. Some have suggested that we are looking at a scenario in which we have either the current national park or a future mine. If there is one message I would like to leave with this committee it is this: Passage of Bill C-38 without amendment will preserve a magnificent northern wilderness landscape and its inherent wildlife values and still allow for a mineral exploration program aimed at the most promising sites for mineral potential.

Over 80 per cent of the Darnley Bay anomaly is located outside the national park. It is still open to mineral development. Of the seven hot spots of mineral potential identified by the 1997 aeromagnetic survey for Darnley Bay Resources, only one is in the park; the rest are outside. I should point out that one is under water. I presume that we have not reached the point where we can empty the Beaufort Sea.

According to a January 8, 1998 Darnley Bay Resources Limited project update, the most prospective area for mineral exploration is in the centre of the survey area, outside the park, and could be within a few metres of the surface. As well, the anomaly inside the park is not as magnetic as most of the anomalies outside the park and is "deeper than others", that is, 500 metres to 600 metres. I am not saying it is outside of economic limits, but their survey clearly suggested that it is one of the deeper areas.

In an April 1998 letter to its shareholders, Darnley Bay Resources Limited reported that its geophysical consultants recommended a program of additional mineral exploration in two target areas, both of which are outside the national park boundary. This work is to identify 8 to 12 drilling targets. Clearly, at least based on this information available to the public, there is an opportunity to pursue mining outside the current park boundary. This is not a "change the park boundary or there will be no mine" decision.

Finally, the company has proposed to gather rocks, stream sediments and other samples on land within the boundary of Tuktut Nogait national park. However, in a letter released to the public, the Tuktut Nogait Park Management Board, a co-management board established pursuant to the Tuktut Nogait Agreement, recommended against mineral exploration and rock sampling within the park. Furthermore, it recommended that the federal government treat Tuktut Nogait as if it were a national park established in legislation, and honour its commitment to protect it under the National Parks Act. Passage of Bill C-38 will honour that agreement.

To conclude, the Canadian Nature Federation recommends that the Senate committee examining this issue report Bill C-38 without amendment, thereby protecting Tuktut Nogait national park.

I thank you for your time I will endeavour to answer any questions.

Senator Adams: It is nice to see you again, Mr. McNamee. I remember working with you on the Banff park issue. We had a pleasant bus ride from Calgary to Banff and Lake Louise.

You say there are 40,000 members in your organization?

Mr. McNamee: Yes, we have 40,000 members and supporters, those being people who have joined the Canadian Nature Federation and people who contribute to the various programs we run.

Senator Adams: What percentage of those members are from the Inuvialuit area?

Mr. McNamee: I could not give you an exact number, but it is definitely a very small percentage of the membership of the Canadian Nature Federation.

Senator Adams: I have never heard mention of your organization in the territories. How much does your organization know about the calving grounds of the caribou in the park area?

Mr. McNamee: The information used to prepare this brief has been gathered over the years by the Canadian Wildlife Service. It was gathered from a number of surveys which were summarized in the draft Bluenose Caribou Herd Management Plan that is being circulated for comment to the 14 communities that depend on the use of the Bluenose caribou herd. Therefore, this information was gathered by scientists.

In addition, the proposed park boundary was very clearly drawn to assist in protecting the calving grounds of the Bluenose caribou herd. Therefore, as with other issues, we have drawn from the information and science that has been gathered and presented to the public over the years.

Senator Adams: My concern is that we not scare the caribou away. From my experience I know that, as long as we do not bother them, they will remain in that area. On what do you base your contention that the caribou from the Yukon migrate up that far? Do you know what percentage of the Bluenose caribou migrate there for calving in the springtime?

I am also concerned about land claims settlements, preserving oil and gas reserves, and the future of mining.

Mr. McNamee: To respond to your question as it relates to the caribou, I do not know the number, but I do know that the biologists are saying that this particular area, which includes the area that we want to have excised from the park, is the area to which they return most frequently. They have showed an affinity for returning to that area.

One must distinguish between flying into an area or walking through an area and changing the habitat. I believe that mineral development is aimed at changing the habitat. Scientific literature shows that where we have changed and fragmented the habitat in southern Canada, through logging, mining or other means, caribou herds diminish.

The Inuvialuit and conservation groups are united in our opposition to American plans to drill for oil and gas within the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd which Canada shares with Alaska because decades of research have shown that, if you impact the small area to which they migrate for calving and post-calving, that will have an impact on the herd.

Similarly, studies done by the U.S. government on the other caribou herd near Pruhoe Bay have indeed shown that they are there and that they do "rub up" against the pipeline, as President George Bush once remarked. However, the studies have also found a change in the herd. The herd is older; it is not as robust; and it is having problems renewing itself.

I suggest that the science that has been gathered over the decades shows that changing habitat has an impact on caribou, and that is our concern.

The Chairman: On that point, Mr. McNamee, the area the caribou frequent is very large. Are you suggesting that there are studies that show that this particular smaller area to which we are referring is more special than other areas?

Mr. McNamee: No, I am not suggesting that the area which is being proposed for excision is any more special than the areas around it. Do not draw that conclusion from my remarks. Clearly, the science that we have looked at does not indicate that. However, studies have shown that it is part of the core calving grounds to which the Bluenose caribou herd have shown a remarkable affinity over the years. In and of itself, therefore, that line is not special but it is part of, and in the middle of, a very special area.

The Chairman: If the people of that area who are coming forward to meet with us today, and who were very much involved in the preparation of the agreement initially, as I understand it, back in 1984, now suggest that, had they known then what they know today, they may not have been in such agreement, and now feel that it will not be harmful to the herd, would they be incorrect?

Mr. McNamee: I will not suggest that the other parties requesting this are incorrect. What I am putting forward to the committee is what we have found, what the record indicates to us, which is that people knew that there was mineral potential of moderate to high value when these park boundaries were drawn.

Senator Butts: If I interpret what you are saying correctly, it is that this park was initiated by the Inuvialuit, that they made a conscious decision that they would prevent industrial development, and that the latest surveys only confirm what they already knew. Are you ready to speculate as to why they have had this change of mind?

Mr. McNamee: Clearly, you will hear from representatives who are more closely involved and can explain that. However, I can hazard a guess. I was involved in something called the "Whitehorse Mining Initiative". It was an 18-month exercise that brought environmental groups, government mining departments, the mining industry, labour, and aboriginal organizations together because there were all these different issues that were, in the opinion of the mining industry, impeding access to areas to develop new mines.

Through that process, I had an opportunity to meet many interesting individuals and I learned a lot during the process and afterwards. Clearly, when you are trying to develop a mine in the North, it is difficult to attract investment. I am sure that Darnley Bay Resources wants to indicate to the investment community that it has an ability to access the entire Darnley Bay anomaly. That would only enhance the financial viability of the area. I would counter and suggest that the record indicates, at least preliminarily, that the most promising areas are outside the park.

We all know how quickly capital flows can vary these days, and this may be an attempt to indicate that this is a financially viable operation.

I stress to the committee that that is speculation on my part.

What is also clear is that jobs are needed in the north. There is no second-guessing that. Thus, this is a very important opportunity for the community.

Senator Butts: Would the park not create jobs in the north?

Mr. McNamee: That is certainly the plan. I know that the Secretary of State for Parks indicated to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that it is his intention to go ahead and allocate $10 million to this park. I hope that when you meet with the secretary, you will continue to press him to fulfil that commitment. Clearly the park would produce a number of jobs that are very important to the community. How many remains to be seen. I think it will create long-term jobs that will be sustained over a long period of time; whereas, in the case of a mine, we are clearly a number of years away from determining if there will even be a mine, if the prices for commodities will rise, and if the dumping of metals on to the market from other countries will not affect Canada's ability to bring forth these resources.

Senator Butts: Are we discussing here what some other people have mentioned, that is oil and gas and diamonds, or are we talking about minerals? One of the problems we have with Voisey Bay is that they do not seem to be very anxious to mine the minerals there.

Mr. McNamee: We are talking about minerals.

Senator Butts: I think that should make a difference.

Senator Gustafson: I am a farmer from southern Saskatchewan where we have moose in our wheat fields. I have lived there all my life and I had never seen them before. There are regulations that say we cannot touch the moose, so they are living very well among us. When they went right through my son's yard, I thought the horses were out, but it was the moose.

We have the same problem with deer. We have herds of deer which, in a tough winter can be as large as 500. The farmers feed them by putting out grain and hay.

My question arises from the statements of Senator Adams. How much inconvenience is a regulated mining operation to this herd?

Mr. McNamee: That information is provided to you in the brief. It is also stated in the draft caribou management plan that the exact impact that industrial development would have on the Bluenose caribou herd is hard to determine. I have to go back to the draft management plan, which stated:

the possible effects of human-related disturbances, such as oil and gas exploration and mineral exploration and extraction, on the caribou herd and its range are not known.

On the one hand, they are clearly saying that the calving grounds are the least tolerant to disturbance, and that we have enough of an indication of that from other caribou herds. There is great concern about what might happen to the Bathurst caribou herd if a diamond mine goes ahead in that area. Many scientists are saying that we should be very careful about how we proceed in these areas since they are the least tolerant to disturbance. On the other hand, we do not know enough to try to suggest what will be the exact problem.

I do not think you can draw a link between what happens to deer in habitat here and what might happen to caribou in the North. The caribou in the North clearly return to a specific area for calving. It is well known, that deer are, in essence, in many areas, an exotic species, and that they have an ability to move into areas that are not their natural habitat. There are deer in a number of Canada's national parks, and we know they should not be there. We eliminate them in Point Pelee National Park, and there is a move on to do the same in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve because they have an impact on the natural habitat. They browse that habitat. They make some of the species, such as the endangered species in Point Pelee, disappear.

It is not the same issue, and you cannot draw the conclusion that, because deer are in a disturbed habitat, caribou would survive very well in a disturbed habitat. The linkage is not there.

The Chairman: Are there any examples, Mr. McNamee, that you can point to where exploration or development was proven to be harmful to a caribou herd, or is this all just conjecture? It may be very valid conjecture but can you point us to any examples where that has occurred?

Mr. McNamee: The studies that have been done in Alaska of the caribou herd around Prudhoe Bay have indicated a long-term trend of harm to that herd. I would be happy to find those studies and provide them to the committee.

Caribou in Manitoba is identified as a vulnerable species. People are more concerned because of logging operations and developing mines in and around the various habitats in Manitoba. In a number of places across Canada, the scientific record has clearly demonstrated that industrial development is having an impact on caribou herds. Caribou biologists get together at conferences and, once a year there is usually an international conference of American and Canadian biologists, and the papers that are presented there indicate that link.

The Chairman: We would appreciate seeing those studies, if you would not mind assisting us in that regard. It would be very helpful.

Senator Adams: What are the concerns of those organizations which hold conferences? Obviously their concern is about the caribou, but do they take an interest in local communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan?

Mr. McNamee: Our organization has not studied that. We have seen a number of studies and have spoken to those who are concerned about industrial development and its impact on caribou populations, particularly with regard to the use of calving grounds, wintering ranges, and so on. That is a common theme across Canada, including Newfoundland, where they are concerned about some of the caribou populations because of the change in the landscape.

The committee may wish to consider this issue. It is almost as if God played a joke on us by putting the mineral resources underneath the areas where the caribou populations are and then suggesting that we make those lands a national park. It is remarkable how much conflict there is between mining, caribou calving grounds and proposed protected areas. I think the mining industry thinks we are just following them around and trying stop them from developing the lands. I can assure you that is not the case. We are trying to bring to this committee a perspective based on what information has been gathered over the past 10 years.

Senator Adams: In every community between Keewatin, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories there are representatives of organizations who assess the migration patterns of the caribou herds. I have never heard any of those organizations express a concern about protecting the herds from either a mining company or a logging company.

My concern relates to the Bluenose caribou herd that migrates to the Tuktut Nogait Park. They must cross the MacKenzie River in March as they begin their migration towards the new park. The calving season starts about the first week of May and then they begin their migration. How do they cross the Mackenzie River?

Mr. McNamee: Our federation is focusing on the impact of the proposed change and possible mineral development in calving grounds within this park. We have not addressed the issue of migration.

One must be careful about any mineral development within this area. As I mentioned, 80 per cent of the anomaly is open to development. I would imagine that, during different times of the year, the caribou will migrate through that area. We must be concerned about the migrations, but our specific concern that we have raised with the committee relates to the change in the calving grounds.

Senator Adams: To go back to the Yukon, they have to wait until September or December. I do not think the herds can only calf in the Tuktut Nogait park area. They can go some place in the Yukon, and not head east.

Mr. McNamee: Because of your background, you obviously know more than I do about caribou. You told me on some of the trips that I took with you that you return to the land each year. The issue for us is the calving grounds and not altering them. Even if the caribou are not there and you change the habitat, you are still disturbing the habitat. You are changing the vegetation and the conditions for which the caribou return to that area. If they return to their nursery and the habitat has been changed, food will not be available to them.

That is the concern surrounding the Porcupine caribou herd. They moved from great areas to a specific area because of the nutritional value that can be found in the habitat for the calves. The wind keeps the flies and other insects, particularly mosquitoes, away from them. They can have a detrimental effect on the calves. All of those conditions come together within those calving grounds to provide an area of nutrition and protection for the calves. You want to ensure that those values have remained at the calving grounds when it is time for them to return.

The Chairman: Mr. McNamee, I thought you said that the calving grounds were in the whole area, not just this specific area.

Mr. McNamee: That is my point. Again, I was not addressing that specific area.

The Chairman: There are thousands of square kilometres in this area that are the habitat of the caribou. Within those thousands of square acres, calving grounds could be anywhere -- not just here. Did I misunderstand you?

Mr. McNamee: No. As the map clearly indicates, that is the area to which they return.

The Chairman: That is the calving area?

Mr. McNamee: Not that little area proposed to be excised, but the larger area.

The Chairman: The larger area is the calving area?

Mr. McNamee: Yes. That line was drawn on a map taken from the draft Bluenose Caribou Herd Management Plan.

The Chairman: Members of the committee have a coloured document which shows the park. This large blue area, as I understand it, is the so-called "core calving area". Within that area is a small outlined area which is the proposed exclusion.

As I understand it, all these lands could be calving areas. They do not calve in this one small area.

Mr. McNamee: That is right.

The Chairman: I think Senator Adams is asking -- and, I am trying to understand this as well -- why can they not calve somewhere else? I am not trying to be adversarial here, I am just trying to understand.

Mr. McNamee: That is a good question and certainly one that would be better put to a biologist who has studied the herd. Part of the problem we run into is that it is government biologists who have done most of the work. You can appreciate that it is difficult to have one of them here.

It is entirely possible that they may not use that area. Our concern is that you are possibly dropping a mine into that area which would have a negative impact. Again, I go back to the plan. It clearly indicates that these are the areas least tolerant to disturbance. It is entirely possible that they may go elsewhere.

In our brief, we have also asked the committee to consider the other values of this area and the policy implications for changing a national park boundary to allow mineral development and the possible signal that this could send to the U.S. Congress. We, Canada, the Inuvialuit and others are very concerned that the U.S. Congress is moving to open up the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd to oil and gas development in Alaska.

I can assure this committee that the U.S. Congress, particularly senators from Alaska and other representatives, are looking at Canada's conservation record. They are looking for examples of Canada developing the calving grounds of caribou herds. There is an international policy and conservation issue here as it relates to signals we will be sending. This proposal must be put into the regional context, the national context and the international context. I am asking you to consider all of that.

If my answer is not good enough in terms of specifics, I ask you to consider some of the other issues.

Senator Hays: Our discussion really leads to the general question of what protections are in these sensitive areas for migratory species, other than having a park boundary? Why do we have confidence in those boundaries? In other words, if this area is to be the site of a mine and if God, in his mysterious way, has made the area nearest the surface the most sensitive area or the best area to pick up on these coincidences, then surely we are relying on more than a park boundary to ensure the health of the Bluenose, the Porcupine, the Bathurst and whatever other caribou species or other migratory species is affected?

There may be future impacts regarding our example to the U.S. and to the world of our sensitivity to the ecological importance of land within Canada's sovereign boundaries, lands for which the governments that report to Parliament are responsible.

Please comment on why this park boundary is so important. That would be helpful in terms of either your lack of confidence or your confidence in environmental assessment impact processes and other regulatory means which are currently in place to, hopefully, ensure the long-term protection of migratory species, including the Bluenose caribou.

Mr. McNamee: That is a good question, Senator Hays. First, we do not advocate a national park as the only way to protect sensitive habitats. You just cannot do that. That is not practical for society, for conservation purposes, or for cultural purposes.

However, I point out that when the idea first arose through Paulatuk's conservation plan, they consciously chose a national park as the method to pursue the protection of the Bluenose caribou herd over other alternatives such as a national wildlife area for which a minister can issue a permit for to allow mining, over caribou protection measures. First and foremost, that was their decision.

When it comes to other ways of doing things, clearly there is a whole box of different tools that we can use to protect the environment. We would like to see all of those tools being used.

You asked me about my confidence in environmental assessment. The Canadian Nature Federation has gone through two in recent memory with respect to mining. That is the BHP mine and the Cheviot mine. I do not have to tell you that we did not draw a lot of confidence from those, particularly with respect to the BHP mine, in that the most specific recommendation from the environmental assessment panel was to amend the Criminal Code to make it easier to prosecute people who might steal diamonds from the site.

We did not draw a lot of confidence from that exercise. In fact, we had to lobby the federal government to pursue a protected area strategy to try to identify those sensitive habitats. In the case of the Cheviot mine, the legislation had a very clear mandate and direction to the panel to look at the cumulative impact of different activities in and around the area. We are in court now arguing that that was not done.

I hasten to add, and you will hear from the Inuvialuit representatives that, under the Inuvialuit settlement agreement or the Inuvialuit final agreement, they have established a thorough screening and environmental assessment process. Because of some of those examples, we draw more confidence from that process. Hopefully, that process will be in play with respect to development outside the national park boundary.

We do like to see other tools used. We have some confidence in them. Regulations are only as good as the individual or the minister or the government of the day. The track record can be inconsistent. A national park, particularly those that have been set up recently, offer a more consistent track record in terms of protecting the environment and encouraging others outside to do so.

Senator Hays: You are giving a mixed review about the regulatory processes which have been implemented to protect the Bluenose caribou.

I assume you would agree, though, that the main protection for this caribou herd is not the park boundary but, rather, those other processes which must be respected and which we must follow, in this park or any other, for the protection for these species.

Mr. McNamee: I do not know if I would agree with that. I would agree with a statement that a combination of these kinds of measures is needed. In the case of the Ivvavik National Park and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, they play a role in protecting the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. Clearly many people believe that a protected area is the way to go. Canada has chosen a national park, again, because of the Inuvialuit. That was one way that was chosen.

Senator Hays: To go to your analogy of the tool box, if you were to lose one tool, would you rely more on park boundaries or on regulatory processes to ensure an overall protection for migratory species? As between the two, which is the most important tool in the tool box?

Mr. McNamee: I would not throw away any of the tools. I would argue that you need a combination of those tools.

Senator Hays: We will leave it there.

Mr. McNamee: I am not going to choose, senator, because we know we have identified sensitive habitats which should not be developed, and that we need other measures.

Senator Hays: I have a second question which arises out of the involvement of the community. This is a positive step in park development and I think it is relatively new for Parks Canada. I would appreciate your comments as that relates to the sensitivity, the management of the park and its boundaries, or to its creation in the first instance. Is that a new strategy? Is it positive? Is there any other comment you might make that would be helpful for future park development decisions?

Mr. McNamee: Are you asking with respect to this park and other national parks?

Senator Hays: Yes. My understanding is that most parks have not had their inspiration from the community, but rather from a decision made at the centre of the country indicating that this is an ecologically sensitive area or has a feature of important ecological or cultural significance and, therefore, it is established as a park.

You described the processes that inspired or brought into being the idea of this park as being community-based. You also made reference to ongoing community involvement in the park. I should like your thoughts as to whether this is a positive move or not, and how you think that might play a positive role or not, in terms of future park development and the way in which existing parks are managed.

Mr. McNamee: I am giving a lecture on Thursday at Trent University where I will have several hours to cover that area.

Senator Hays: I withdraw the question.

Mr. McNamee: To my understanding of the history of national parks, early on, with national parks such as Prince Albert, it was the local people who approached the government. Waterton is probably the first example where local ranchers approached the federal government. Historically, there are other examples.

However, certainly in contemporary history, the last three or four decades, the example of Paulatuk approaching the federal government clearly stands out, particularly because, in the 1960s, the federal government decided to take a scientific approach and identify the best representative areas. In fact, I point out that, in this natural region, the original national park proposal was dropped, in part, because of local community concerns and because it was heavily staked for mining. Another possible national park was also abandoned because of mineral potential.

This clearly stands out as a good example, and I think it is a positive thing. If communities can see national parks and protected areas as a way to help do things, although this debate may hurt that somewhat, clearly it is a positive thing.

It is also worth pointing out that the federal government has completely shifted its approach in that it used to expropriate people and force national parks down their throats, as it were, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I can assure you from watching the process, that Parks Canada, at least when it comes to park establishment, does not make a move unless there is community support, the support of First Nations, and the support of provincial and territorial governments.

When that line was drawn, it was not just Parks Canada drawing that line; it was a line agreed upon by various parties.

Senator Buchanan: Mr. Chairman, this is a serious matter, and the area under discussion is rather far from Nova Scotia. However, the people of Nova Scotia would not want Senator Butts and I to be here and not ask the following questions: When did you import the Bluenose caribou heard from Nova Scotia; and how much did you pay for it?

Mr. McNamee: That is probably a question best directed elsewhere. I have been to Nova Scotia on numerous occasions, and I have not seen any caribou there.

Before you conclude, I should like to say that this committee has been extremely thorough, and I do not think I have ever had more in-depth questions on an issue before any committee in Parliament. We have tried to answer your questions and given you some information to pursue with the witnesses yet to appear, and I thank you for this opportunity. We will get those studies to you.

The Chairman: It is always a pleasure to have you appear before our committee, Mr. McNamee. We thank you very much for your continued commitment.

Our next witnesses are from the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. Nellie Cournoyea is Chair and CEO. With her is Ruben Green, Chair of the Paulatuk Community Corporation.

We welcome you. Please, proceed.

Ms Nellie J. Cournoyea, Chair and CEO, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation: Honourable senators, we are honoured and humbled to be here before you and to know that you are available to listen to our concerns.

I am the chairperson and the CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. This corporation handles the Inuvialuit Settlement Region land claims area. Ruben Green is the chairperson of the Paulatuk Community Corporation and sits on the corporation's board representing the people of Paulatuk and the aspirations of all Inuvialuit.

When I was born, Inuvik did not exist. I come from a subsistence family, and I practice, to the best of my ability, my skills and traditions. Ruben Green is a well-known subsistence hunter and also must practice his traditional skills. He is the father of six young children. He is very thin now; his wife is thinner; and his children are even thinner. It is very difficult to make ends meet with the increased cost of living and everything else we must put up with in the changing northern economy. We try our very best to represent ourselves and our communities.

I appreciate this opportunity to speak to you and to raise a matter of great importance to the Inuvialuit. I hope the Senate will take the opportunity to intervene in Bill C-38 to prevent a grave mistake by the government. Otherwise, a damaging precedent will be set for all co-management parks which will seriously diminish the role of the Inuvialuit in decision-making on our traditional lands.

The details of our disagreement with Bill C-38 and our reason for requesting a small adjustment to the western boundary of the park as currently proposed have been set out at length in briefs to the federal government and to the House of Commons committee. These have been provided to you, and we will be glad to go over them should members have questions.

Simply stated, the Inuvialuit signatories to a proposed co-management park are asking that the western boundary of the proposed park be modified to remove a modest area: about 100,000 acres or 2.5 per cent. The request is pursuant to section 22.1 of the Tuktut Nogait Park Agreement of 1996 which allows any party to the agreement to ask for a review. The request is supported by five of the six signatories to the agreement, including the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The request is based on new mineral resource information, obtained since October 1997, which reveals several excellent exploration targets, one of which is just within the western boundary of the proposed park. Our request is based on long and serious discussions in Paulatuk and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The area of concern is on the western edge of the park. The alternate boundary was drawn by those people with the greatest knowledge of this area and its wildlife, the Paulatuk Hunters and Trappers Committee, in such a way that the boundary would avoid any of the environmentally sensitive features of the proposed park; in particular to leave La Ronciére Falls, the most heavily used calving grounds, within the park.

The Inuvialuit signatories believe that this area can be removed from the proposed park without detracting from the conservation purposes of the park. We now believe that the balance of interests justifies this alternate western boundary line. The western boundary, as set out in Bill C-38, will foreclose long-term economic opportunity to an extent that this is out of proportion to the small degree of incremental protection that park status may provide to the segment of land. The full force of the environmental protection processes and institutions established under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement will apply to this segment and will ensure that any activity, mineral or otherwise, can only be conducted if it is consistent with the long-term health of the land and wildlife.

On the face of it, Bill C-38 is a simple piece of legislation. It is important to understand, however, that the foundation of the bill is an agreement between the Inuvialuit signatories and the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories, a fact that is not mentioned in the bill. Without the Tuktut Nogait Park Agreement of 1996, there would be no park.

Furthermore, the park agreement stipulates that Tuktut Nogait will be a co-management park, managed jointly by the federal government and the Inuvialuit. Co-management parks are new in Canada and therefore Bill C-38 will set precedents in the way co-management principles are to be implemented.

As the bill stands, the precedent is a bad one because Bill C-38 in this form and at this time overrides the Inuvialuit interest, and denies the accepted practice that the full consent of aboriginal people should be obtained before a park is established on their traditional lands.

There are many examples in the NWT where proposed parks have been delayed for many years to ensure that the consent of aboriginal people is obtained. Examples are the proposed park on the east arm of Grate Slave Lake, and even the segments of Tuktut Nogait in the Sahtu and Nunavut Settlement Region.

Why is there such pressure to put this park into law even though the Inuvialuit strongly object?

We have eight objections to Bill C-38 as it stands. The first is that new mineral information obtained from an aeromagnetic survey undertaken in October, 1997 reveals for the first time several strong prospective exploration targets, one of which is just within the proposed park boundary. At the time of the park negotiations, government reports implied that any minerals were at great depth and outside the park boundary. This is shown clearly in the GSC Open File 2389 of 1994, figure 11. The new information also suggests that the targets are closer to the surface and, therefore, more economic than previously thought.

In a recent letter to this committee, Falconbridge Mining Ltd., indicated that it had reached the same conclusion. Had this information been available at the time of the park negotiations, the position of the Inuvialuit signatories would have been significantly different. We are not asking for a deviation from Parks Canada policy in asking that the current mineral information be fully considered. The Minerals and Metal Policy of Canada, the Whitehorse Mining Leadership Accord and the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy all call for the use of sound and current mineral resource information when protected areas decisions are made. There was also a requirement of Paulatuk's own conservation plan of 1990 which was the foundation of the Tuktut Nogait park.

Second, the land taken for Tuktut Nogait is vast -- 16,340 square kilometres -- three times the size of Prince Edward Island. All of it is within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The Inuvialuit Final Agreement, which Canada signed, and which has constitutional status, sets out as a central goal the equal and meaningful participation of Inuvialuit in the northern and national economy. This is found in section 1(b) of the IFA. The objective is also central to the "Gathering Strength" initiative of this government.

Yet, in this case, while the Inuvialuit were indeed participants in the discussions toward the park agreement, we now find ourselves shut out. We are told that the review clause is not available to us. Yet it is our assessment, after long consideration, that adjustment of the western boundary is in the long-term best interests of the region. We also have the means, through the institutions of the IFA, to ensure that if any development is ever proposed it will proceed if, and only if, it meets the needs of the natural environment and the people of the region.

Third, the Tuktut Nogait Park Agreement stipulates that this will be a co-management park, subject to the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. There is an outstanding request by the Inuvialuit signatories for a review of the Park Agreement of 1996, pursuant to section 22.1. In spite of the support of the five signatories for a review of the western boundary, the federal government refused a review and is pushing legislation through to prevent any reconsideration of the boundary.

The principle of co-management alone demands that a request by five out of six signatories to a co-management park agreement be granted.

Fourth, at the time of the negotiation of the Park Agreement, the Inuvialuit parties were aware that the Darnley Bay area on the western edge of the park had some, as yet unknown, mineral potential.

Some of us worried that, if exploration revealed better mineral prospects, the western boundary could become an obstacle to further economic activity. However, the Inuvialuit negotiators were specifically assured by Parks Canada that section 22.1 would be available to revisit the issue of the western boundary, should new mineral information be obtained.

On this understanding, the Inuvialuit negotiators persuaded a mineral exploration company to cede the prospecting permits to 472,461 acres of Crown land within the proposed park, which they did voluntarily and without compensation. The area that the Inuvialuit are now requesting is about one-fifth of that area, roughly 100,000 acres, 2.5 per cent of the park area as proposed in Bill C-38.

Once again, had the Inuvialuit not believed that the review clause would be sufficient to enable a review, our position on the western boundary would have been very different.

Fifth, the effect of this deception was to expropriate without compensation, removing economic opportunities for Inuvialuit and seizing mineral exploration rights without having to pay for them. Effectively, the Crown obtained 472,461 acres of permit lands in good standing, at no cost, by making false assurances.

Sixth, at the time of the park negotiations three years ago, we were advised that the Sahtu and Nunavut regions would soon contribute substantial areas to the eastern and southern boundaries of Tuktut Nogait. These would have increased the park quantum to 28,000 square kilometres. By comparison, the segment that the Inuvialuit are asking to be removed from the proposed quantum is approximately 400 square kilometres.

The status of these contributions remains unresolved. It seems to us that if issues of such extensive additions can be left unsettled, there is no need to press into legislation a western boundary that is the subject of such contention. If the southern and eastern boundaries of the proposed park are still unresolved, then there should be no objection to reconsidering the western boundary.

Seventh, some of those pressing for immediate passage of Bill C-38 contend that Tuktut Nogait is both necessary and sufficient to protect the caribou and imply that any agreement or amendment will compromise the herd. We have dealt with this at length in the documents provided to you and stand by our position.

Our commitment to caribou and wildlife protection has already been demonstrated by the setting aside of 29 per cent of the region for parks and protected areas, including vast areas specifically for the caribou of the Western Arctic coast: Ivvavik National Park for the Porcupine herd, Aulavik National Park for the Peary herd, and now Tuktut Nogait National Park for the Bluenose herd. No other Canadians have done as much to protect caribou as the Inuvialuit, at a considerable cost already in foregone economic opportunity.

Eighth, the new information on the Bluenose caribou herd substantially changes the foundation of the park agreement and, therefore, the bill. One objective of the park agreement is the protection of the Bluenose herd. Scientific evidence released this summer, however, confirms what Inuvialuit have believed for some time, that the Bluenose caribou herd, which takes its name from Bluenose Lake, actually calves and moves only on land to the east of Tuktut Nogait park, in Nunavut. Indeed, Bluenose Lake is not even within the proposed park. Scientific evidence now confirms that there are, in fact, two distinct herds with quite different migratory and habitat patterns.

This information alone justifies a review of the Tuktut Nogait Park Agreement. It also shows how inappropriate it is to rely on protected areas to provide protection for caribou. Caribou often change their grazing and calving patterns. As my colleague said to me a few minutes ago, because of weather conditions or whatever influences the movement of caribou, the caribou did not arrive at this particular spot this year. What if a national park is set up to protect a place that has been used heavily for calving and then, for whatever reason, the caribou move, over a few seasons, to an area many miles off in another watershed?

Caribou protection is extremely important. We believe it is too important to allow sweeping generalities and misinformation about the range and habits of the herd to override sensible conservation planning and decisions.

Instead of considering our request as an issue of substance, of importance to the Inuvialuit, the government is acting on short-term political convenience. Signed commitments to aboriginal people pale next to the threats from Southern environmentalists. Furthermore, the government had the temerity to raise, against our request, the concern over the Porcupine caribou herd, even though the Inuvialuit, through the commitment of lands to Ivvavik park, have done more to protect that herd than any other Canadians.

It worries me that decisions with such consequences for Inuvialuit will be made by people who are deeply unfamiliar with our realities. It must be remembered that our people have already suffered from decisions that were made for our own good. Such attitudes have already cost our people a way of life. In my parents' generation, families could still make a living from the land by fur trapping. The destruction of the fur industry, destroyed by a land-based way of life and by leaving no option but dependence on government, has debilitated our society and culture.

Decisions to set aside vast areas may give comfort to some Southern Canadians bombarded by well-funded environmental organizations and unlikely ever to risk keeping body and soul together through a winter on the Arctic coast.

Although we are here today on behalf of the Inuvialuit, we are not arguing for our interests against those of other Canadians. I have spent many years in the service of the public, in various portfolios and finally as Premier of the Northwest Territories. I do not believe that sound public policy favours one group to the detriment of the other. I do not believe that Canadians are served by bad public policy, however comforting and easy the decision may be. All Canadians deserve sound and accountable policy and decision making.

We believe this situation illustrates damning faults in this government's decision making on protected areas -- faults in both the substance of decisions and the processes by which lands are obtained. For this government, the ends justify the means. Obtaining lands for new parks justifies violation of stated policy, expropriation without compensation, negotiating agreements in bad faith, and even violation of the spirit of constitutionally protected land claims agreements.

We object. The Inuvialuit deserve and demand respect and a real role in decisions affecting our land and our lives. All Canadians deserve better, more honest, more accountable decision making on protected areas.

Would these hearings be different if we were Canadian Pacific Hotels and the area in question was Banff National Park? Sadly, the conclusion will be yes, if the Senate refuses to intervene.

We ask you to rectify Bill C-38 by recommending the following: Either amend Bill C-38 to modify the western boundary of the proposed park, as requested in the February 19, 1998 request from the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, which you will see in attachment 1; or delay Bill C-38 until the final boundaries to the west, south and east are firmly agreed upon and three requirements have been met.

Those three requirements are: a full review by all signatories according to section 22.1 of the Tuktut Nogait Park Agreement to deal with the Inuvialuit request for modification of the western boundary; conclusion of a co-management park agreement with the Sahtu on the appropriate southern boundary of the proposed park; and a review of the implications of new scientific evidence of the existence of two separate herds for the appropriate protection regimes, and the appropriate eastern boundary of the proposed park, and conclusion of a co-management park agreement with Nunavut on protection of the Bluenose Lake caribou herd.

Until all boundaries have been fully and finally considered, it is not possible for anyone to assess the trade-offs between environmental protection, environmental potential and social and cultural well-being. Without this assessment, it is premature to expect Parliament to judge the balance of interests.

The Inuvialuit have committed more land to protect areas -- fully 29 per cent of the land base -- and the caribou herds of the Arctic than any other Canadians. We are asking for a small change in a proposed park, to keep some economic options open, and to serve the interests of the people of our region in keeping with the terms and spirit of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

The Inuvialuit were the first Northern aboriginal people to negotiate and conclude a comprehensive land claim settlement with Canada. We have worked hard over the years to build a cooperative, constructive relationship with the Government of Canada. We have asked for only our due under the IFA. I find it very disturbing, after so long, to have to fight at every turn to compel the federal government to honour its commitments. Ours is a small region with a population of about 5,700 souls. We do not have the resources to waste in court challenges or in petitions such as this one in order to keep the federal government honest to what it committed to in the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and the Tuktut Nogait Park Agreement.

Thank you for listening to me. We are prepared to answer any questions you may have at this time. We have representatives from Falconbridge here, if the committee would like to speak about the new mineral information to which I referred earlier.

The Chairman: Thank you for a well-prepared and presented brief. It was very informative.

Senator Adams: Senator Butts introduced Bill C-38 before we adjourned last June. It was returned to us this fall. I am glad that Ms Cournoyea is here to explain your concerns about Bill C-38 to us. When it was introduced in the Senate last June, we did not hear anything about the concerns of your people as they relate to the Tuktut Nogait park area.

You have worked with the Tuktut community in the last three years regarding the boundaries for the new park. How much influence did Inuvialuit have with the government? You had some concerns about what the boundaries should be. You have done quite a lot of exploration into this since you settled the land claims in 1988. Did the people from Ottawa listen to your concerns about the areas that should or should not be included, and about whether or not there should be oil exploration there in the future?

Ms Cournoyea: In terms of the broad issue, the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, I do not know if it is because we were the first or because we were in an area to which not many people travelled but, since the oil and gas development has left our area, the Government of Canada does not pay us much attention.

We made representation to the government to have the change made before the bill was introduced in the House of Commons. On April 12, we attended a dinner with Minister Mitchell when we expressed our concerns to him. At that time, he said that he would look into it. We heard little more. In fact, the next thing we heard -- and this was two or three weeks later -- was that the bill was before the House of Commons. We were not told that was about to happen. We had no warning about this. The bill had already gone forward and it went through two readings but we were only informed through the information that we got on the Internet that it had proceeded.

Senator Adams: Were you informed of that by the House of Commons committee?

Ms Cournoyea: Later, we made representations to the House of Commons committee. The same cast was there. However, it appeared that the House of Commons did not wish to hear from us. They treated us as if we were troublesome people. We were only asking, "Why are you going back on your agreement?" No one wanted to talk about the fact that the agreement included a review clause, which was included specifically to deal with that small part of the area about which we had concern.

We felt that we had gone a long way to convince the mining company that they should cede the permits within a large area and without compensation. If we had left that alone, we would have at least received something, but we convinced them that this was a better way to proceed. The review clause in the agreement was specifically included, if we want to address that section, but no one wants to talk about that now. It is as if it does not exist.

Senator Adams: Mr. Green, you developed the boundaries for the new park. Did you develop them with the people from Ottawa or with the local community? At that time the federal government was promoting the Tuktut Nogait National Park. Were you involved with the community in Paulatuk?

Mr. Ruben Green, Chairman, Paulatuk Regional Corporation: We, the people of Paulatuk, had signed the agreement in 1996. After the agreement was signed, we received an aeromagnetic survey report from Darnley Bay Resources in 1997. The report contained new mineral information. In 1996, when we signed the agreement, we did not have this information. We always refer back to the geological survey of Canada in 1994, which stated that the mineral potential was moderate to low. The Inuvialuit who live in Paulatuk deliberated over the decision and came up with another solution -- that we would like to request a change. That is what the people, namely, the Inuvialuit, wanted. That is why we are here and it is what we, the Inuvialuit of Paulatuk, want.

Senator Adams: Is there any mention about the Inuvialuit being concerned about future exploration in the area where the government wants to make the other park? Are the people from Parks Canada -- that is, the people here in Ottawa -- concerned about the Inuvialuit? There is an agreement about the land, as Ms Cournoyea said. Are you concerned about the boundary for Tuktut Nogait National Park and how big should it be?

There was a property agreement with Canada and then the idea for the park started to develop. I want to know how much area should lie in the boundaries of the park. Should the park be smaller? Should it be bigger?

Ms Cournoyea: The decision on the park size had been under considerable debate. Parks Canada was aware of the situation regarding this specific area. Parks Canada said there was some sort of agreement on the area in terms of the lines. There may be an openness on how to deal with that in the future; we do not know. At that time they felt that the depth of the mineral wealth was quite low and deep down into the ground and that perhaps we would not need to worry about that for a while. That is when Paulatuk insisted on including the review clause in case the answer was not exactly correct. That was previous to the work being done.

Parks Canada thought it was very far down. Then Paulatuk replied and requested the review clause so they could be sure there were provisions to make changes if necessary. Now everyone, except Parks Canada, agrees it should be changed.

Senator Adams: In that request, you took away from the 100,000 acres, 2.5 per cent. Is there much migration of the caribou into that area right now?

Mr. Green: Some scientific data collection was done in the Tuktut Nogait National Park. However, they have never taken account of the traditional knowledge of the Inuvialuit and of the elders. The elders are the keepers of traditional knowledge. We are the people who live in Paulatuk. We live off the land. We know what time the caribou will come in. We know when the geese and the char will come in.

They never used traditional knowledge to supplement their scientific data about the core calving grounds. They use radio collaring to determine the core calving ground. I am not sure how it works but they will collar a cow and for perhaps over five years that cow is tracked by satellite. How do they define "core calving grounds"?

You and I both know that when the caribou migrate, they do not migrate in vast numbers. The Bluenose herd is about 120,000 to 150,000. We have never seen that vast number in the core calving ground. They migrate in staggered numbers. There may be 10 or 6 or 20, but never are there 10,000. Let us go to the extreme. Let us take the whole Bluenose herd. We never see vast numbers of them.

Once again, the traditional knowledge of the people who live there is important. We are conscientious of the time that the caribou come in and of the time that the geese come in. Once again, we refer to the 29 per cent of protected measures and our Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

Ms Cournoyea: I want to add to that. I feel kind of humble speaking to you because I am sure you know more about this than I do. There is a myth that all these caribou go to one place and that they are all in the one area. It is not that way it happens at all. Some may go into a certain area but some will split off. They are all over the place.

We are talking about a seven-week period in which they are generally in a certain area. This year, we do not know quite where they went because they did not end up in this area. We had very bad weather so they may have gone over to the east or to the west or up to Cape Bathurst. This seven weeks is critical in terms of calving and post-calving. For the remainder of the year, people walk around and drive their ski-doos around.

It would not matter whether there was a park there or not. The provisions of our final agreement would adapt to the movements of the caribou and we would be meeting the terms and conditions of the agreement.

To say that the Inuvialuit went out and chose to designate certain areas as national parks because parks are so great, is not necessarily true. That was what the government had to offer and that is what they are selling today.

We put together the co-management arrangements which do not exist in any other park. The continuation of hunting and fishing were part of the parks arrangement.

This is what was offered -- a modified park agreement. The caribou do not stay in that park. They may go somewhere else next year. People are constantly tracking them. It would never be in the best interests of any Inuvialuit to take away from the integrity of any caribou herd because that is still what the majority of people live on. Statistics will show that.

Senator Adams: The Canadian Nature Federation told us that this is a very important area for the caribou. That organization has 40,000 members. Are any of you members of that organization?

Ms Cournoyea: I do not know if I am a member but I do order their publications because I always like to know what they are doing. Mr. McNamee said he was counting the people who order the publication as possible members.

The issue is how to balance the economic interests of people while respecting the well-being of caribou. In our humble opinion and in the traditional knowledge of our people, changing this boundary will not in any way take away from the integrity of the caribou herd. We will continue to have all the power from our final agreement. People have said that they do not think that this agreement exists, but I can assure you that it was signed and it is a legal document. We will continue to be involved whether the issue is caribou, whales or whatever. That is our responsibility.

We must also be concerned about the large number of young people within our society who will be looking for work and opportunities. That is a balance we would like to see. That is the reason for the review clause being incorporated in the agreement. It is difficult to understand the discussion when all the signatories have reached an agreement but no one has mentioned the review clause. I am sure someone will say in the next presentation that the review clause does not mean what it means. Why have it then?

We take our responsibility seriously. I am proud of the wildlife measures that have come out of our agreement. Our people are internationally known for the work they have done, whether on whales, on polar bears or on working with the Inuit peoples in Alaska. We have a strong component to our land claim which deals with the environment and wildlife measures. I do not think anyone else can claim to have done so much. This was recognized by Mr. McNamee. We feel that we must try to create a balance for the people we represent.

Senator Butts: Ms Cournoyea, I am quite unfamiliar with the north. Unfortunately, I have only been there once. However, I am trying to learn, and I hope you can help me a bit.

You say that the information in the latest survey was new. My understanding from reading that report is that the newness is that the minerals may be nearer the surface than was originally thought. As I understand it, there are seven hot spots. The six hot spots outside the park boundary could also be nearer the surface.

What else has changed since you signed the agreement?

Ms Cournoyea: Only one area was left within the proposed park boundary. If you wish further clarity, I believe there is a representative from Falconbridge here.

The Chairman: I have talked to them, and they would be willing to testify.

Senator Butts: That is just one small item.

The Chairman: Did you wish to ask a question of someone from Falconbridge?

Ms Cournoyea: If you want to know more technical details, they will be prepared to provide you with that information.

The Chairman: I have spoken with representatives of Falconbridge. The committee may decide to call them as witnesses. That is an option.

Senator Butts: I was making the point that I had read the reports. Presumably, there are seven hot spots. Six of them are outside the boundary of the park. The new survey says that they may be nearer the surface. My point is that the six outside may be nearer the surface as well as the one inside. For all intents and purposes, I do not see any change in the new study.

Section 22, above all, requires that all parties to the agreement agree to a review. If one party does not agree to a review, why is that a deception?

Ms Cournoyea: The deception lies in the fact that, when the agreement was signed, the perception or the understanding was that, if there should be some new information or if there should be a need for a review, then all would agree. The only people not agreeing are the people who have gained and closed off the area, and that is Parks Canada.

Senator Butts:They are one of the signatories to the agreement.

The Chairman: Could you read that section, senator?

Senator Butts: I do not have the text here.

The Chairman: We have not seen the review section.

Senator Butts: Section 22 is on the bottom of every modern set-up of Parks Canada, and it is general. It states that, if all parties to the agreement would sign, then you can have a review. That is what it says. It does not say a word about boundaries.

The Chairman: For the record, we have a copy of the section. Much emphasis has been put on it. Section 22.1 reads:

Any Party may request a review by the Parties of part or all of this Agreement. If all the Parties agree, they shall initiate the review within ... 90 days of the request.

That is a very badly worded section. I could read that to say that any party may request it and, if all parties agree, it can be done within 90 days, and if they do not agree it could be 120 days. A quick look at that section leads me to say that it is ambiguous, but I am behaving like a lawyer now.

Senator Butts: The point is that it does not mention boundaries, and it states that every one must agree to a review.

The Chairman: I am not sure it says that, Senator Butts. What is your interpretation of that section, Ms Cournoyea?

Ms Cournoyea: The only discussion that really took a lot of space and time was related to a concern over that one section and whether people felt should it be in or be out. You would have to go to the notes and minutes of meetings, but I believe they will clearly show that this was a concern which involved much discussion.

Senator Butts: That may be so, but it was not written into the agreement.

Ms Cournoyea: It is in the agreement.

The Chairman: I think that is a legal interpretation issue. I can appreciate your interpretation, but I think there could be another one.

Senator Butts: I think it is improper to say there is a deception. If one of the six do not agree to it, you cannot have a review. That is very clear.

The whole notion of co-management refers to administering the park, not setting the boundaries. I do not know why you insist that they have broken the agreement on co-management. There will still be co-management of the park. You co-manage it after it is all set up.

Ms Cournoyea: Co-management means having trust amongst each other. You must have trust. That is co-management. People felt that they had an agreement, but now everyone wants to interpret it. All the parties sitting at the table understood what the agreement was. Perhaps it is vague, and I apologize to you for that, but everyone knew what everyone else was talking about. When one issue like this arises, then the faith is not there to be as cooperative in co-management. If one signatory who is a major player in the park feels that they do not want to initiate a review, then what faith can the people of Paulatuk have in the agreement?

Paulatuk is a very small community and very difficult to get to. You go to Inuvik, and then you must charter in to that community. Very few people go there. I appreciate that, if you have not been there, it is difficult to imagine. People from the community cannot just get on the plane and come to Ottawa to meet with the minister to tell him they have some difficulties.

There are no Parks Canada staff in Paulatuk, although there are some in Inuvik. The majority of parks people are in Manitoba.

Senator Butts: Am I correct in my understanding that a building is being constructed in Paulatuk so that they can be there?

Ms Cournoyea: There is a building in Aulavik Park right now, but there is no one there.

Senator Butts: Did you sign the agreement?

Ms Cournoyea: Yes, ma'am.

That was my understanding when I signed the agreement.

Senator Butts: Was it your understanding that everyone had to agree before a change could be made?

Ms Cournoyea: I had faith that people understood what the issue was and that there would be no problem because it was co-management, and we would be considering issue together and trying to reach a consensus.

Senator Butts: Having signed the agreement, what has made you decide not to honour your signature?

Ms Cournoyea: I am honouring my signature by asking honourable senators to have Parks Canada honour their signature by agreeing to the review which five parties have agreed to, excluding Parks Canada.

Senator Butts: They are agreeing as long as they say there must be six. They have not gone back on their word, that is my point.

Let us get down to specifics. If the park cannot operate with the mines at the very entrance to the park, and because everybody knows when you build a mine it is not going to stay in one little spot, then you are making your choice for the mine over the park; is that correct?

Ms Cournoyea: This park is very large. No one is advocating that there should not be a park. We are advocating there should be a park, less 2.2 per cent.

Senator Butts: I wish it were that simple. To me it is not that simple. We have experience of mining elsewhere and of seeing all that mining operations can destroy. If you can get as many jobs by running the park as you can get if there were a mine there, I do not know how you justify your choice.

Ms Cournoyea: Most parks employ one or two or three people. We do not anticipate there will be any greater number than that employed in the park.

Senator Butts: Do you not agree that an amount of $10 million is a significant amount of money for two or three people?

Ms Cournoyea: People can get in the park from anywhere.

Senator Butts: With an airplane or boat.

Ms Cournoyea: Most people who go into the park now -- and there were three last year -- fly in. They get dropped off at the headwaters, they travel down, and another plane picks them up.

Senator Butts: Are you saying that we do not really need this park?

Ms Cournoyea: It is a futuristic thing.

The Chairman: I do not think they are saying that.

Senator Butts: If only two or three people are visiting the park, what else can I conclude?

Ms Cournoyea: We hope you will come and see it.

Senator Chalifoux: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that Ms Cournoyea has travelled a long distance to give her presentation. It does take a long time to get to Ottawa from where you live. I have been there.

Mr. Green, were the elders ever included in negotiating this agreement?

Mr. Green: Only one known elder with traditional knowledge was there; not the elders' committee.

Senator Chalifoux: As an aboriginal person, I know the difficulties you experience in finding jobs and I recognize the economic possibilities resulting from employment.

What economic development would take place in your community and how would you deal with that? You are a family man in your community and you have six children. How would the exclusion of this part of the park affect your ability to hunt to look after your family?

Mr. Green: I do have a big family and I live off the land. I subsist. I get caribou and geese to live on because that is what we eat. I do not foresee any type of problems if our request is granted because we do have an environmental impact screening committee. We have an environmental impact review board to look after the aspect of any type of resource development. I am very confident that we can and will look after resource development because there are many things in place now under the Inuvialuit Final Agreement that will set things in motion.

Senator Chalifoux: When the co-management agreement was signed, was it your understanding that you would be in partnership with Parks Canada, not only in managing the park but in managing the development of this park?

Mr. Green: Yes, that is correct. We had asked Parks Canada on one occasion: Supposing our priorities change or, 20 years from now, our children's priorities change, what do we do? Representatives from Parks Canada said that section 22.1 addressed those concerns.

Senator Chalifoux: That is what Parks Canada told you?

Mr. Green: That is correct. They said, no problem, it will be as easy as that. They told us that section 22.1 addresses that concern. However, that is apparently not so because five out of the six signatories, the Paulatuk Community Corporation that I represent; the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation that Ms Cournoyea represents; the Inuvialuit Game Council; and the Paulatuk Hunters and Trappers Committee are all in line, along with the government of the Northwest Territories.

I am touched by the way that people want to be able to look after us poor people up in northern places such as Inuvialuit. I am touched, but we can run our own lives.

The majority of the people in our community are on social assistance. We have a young-base community. In reference to Parks Canada allocating $10 million, there are two people in Paulatuk employed by Parks Canada.

The Chairman: Mr. Green, I would have to say to you I practised law for 25 years. When I see a section that says any party may request a review by the parties of part or all of this agreement, I cannot think of anything that could be clearer. If people are telling you that you have to have all parties agree, I just cannot believe that is the case. I would like to have come to this committee the person who interprets that section in any other way.

Mr. Green: That is the way we had interpreted it. Parks Canada also said that section 22.1 will eventually take care of changing priorities.

The Inuvialuit of Paulatuk had initiated this request for a change.

Senator Hays: Mr. Chairman, I will be brief. Perhaps we could hear from the Falconbridge representatives later.

One of the requests of the Senate is that it delay Bill C-38 for a review of co-management and also for reconsideration of the eastern boundary. I wanted to get into that but I do not want to take the time now to do that while we have the Secretary of State here. However, I would make a brief comment on the time-frames and the reason for focusing on this proposed variation in the western boundary because of its mining potential.

I am not clear on this. What is new? What prompted the request for review? I would like to get my bearings on that in particular before we hear from Secretary of State Mitchell.

Can you please elaborate on the idea of changing the boundary on the eastern side of this park?

Ms Cournoyea: The aeromagnetic survey was done in the fall of 1997. As I said, it would be far better for Falconbridge to answer the question because, technically, they are much more familiar with that information.

We always knew that there was something there, but indications were that it was way below economic viability. There was some question of keeping that area out of the park but, because of section 22.1, which allows for a review, the people of Paulatuk said they were comfortable with that. However, the high-tech aeromagnetic surveys of 1997 shows that the anomaly is very close to the surface, and therefore very viable for mining.

We do not know how long it will take to build a mine or whether there will ever be a mine there. We are only asking for the opportunity to explore the options for economic opportunities for the Inuvialuit, which are very few and far between.

Senator Hays: As this may be the last time we will hear from you. A brief comment on your request of the Senate to delay passage of this bill with regard to the eastern boundary would be appreciated.

Ms Cournoyea: It was always anticipated by Parks Canada that the park would include the area to the east, which is in the area of Nunavut now, and also an area that is in the Sahtu, which is to the south of us, and that would become part of the total park area, but we were the only ones prepared to proceed.

Senator Hays: So other parties did not agree with what you are suggesting the Inuvialuit thought might be worth considering; that is, having a larger park at the eastern boundary?

Ms Cournoyea: If this were a negotiation with Parks Canada, I am sure the Inuvialuit would have gone to a smaller park, but I think Parks Canada felt a larger area would be more dynamic and dramatic.

The Chairman: I am afraid we must press on, although I personally would like to ask a few more questions. Nevertheless, thank you very much for coming such a long distance to be with us. You certainly have aroused my concerns, and I am sure those of other members of the committee.

Ms Cournoyea: Thank you very much. We do appreciate the opportunity to be heard. I know we are asking a great deal, but we very much would like you to seriously consider what we have brought to your attention.

The Chairman: I assure you that we will do that.

Colleagues, we are privileged to have the Secretary of State (Parks), the Honourable Andy Mitchell, with us.

Welcome, Mr. Mitchell. We look forward to your comments. I understand that you are accompanied by Mr. Bruce Amos, the Director General of National Parks.

Mr. Amos, welcome. We look forward to your submissions.

Please proceed.

The Honourable Andy Mitchell, P.C., M.P., Secretary of State (Parks): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am indeed pleased to have an opportunity to discuss with the committee Bill C-38, an act to establish Tuktut Nogait National Park.

The passage of this bill will mark a significant milestone as we work toward completing our national parks system early in the next century.

The national parks system is one of Canada's greatest treasures, cherished by all Canadians. As I have travelled throughout Canada in my portfolio, Canadians from all walks of life have made it clear that they set as a priority the protection of our special places. They look to us in government to ensure that public stewardship is exercised and that a portion of our national heritage is protected -- protected not only for today and not only for tomorrow, but for far into the future for generations yet to come.

Mr. Chairman, as individuals, as a government, and as Canadians, we have no right to use up our natural legacy in a way that leaves nothing for generations to come. All of us bear this responsibility, and it is one that I intend to shoulder on behalf of the people of Canada.

I was pleased that Bill C-38 was passed in the House of Commons without amendment on June 12, 1998.

I know that you, honourable senators, also share a commitment to Canada's special places, that you share a commitment to our national parks, which are second to none throughout the world.

We also know, however, that the establishment of this particular park has raised a certain amount of controversy. It is my intention today to deal with a number of the issues that have been raised.

More specifically, I intend, first, to talk about the important ecological roles we hope to achieve through the establishment of Tuktut Nogait National Park.

Second, I want to take some time to talk about the process that has gone into the establishment of the park and the decisions that have been made in respect of it -- a process, by the way, Mr. Chairman, that I believe to have been inclusive and transparent.

Third, I intend to talk about how we in Parks Canada, and how the agreement that establishes a park, will work toward the economic advantage of those who live in the region.

Finally, I want to spend a minute talking about the importance of protecting the integrity of our national parks.

Mr. Chairman, one of the key objectives of establishing Tuktut Nogait National Park is to provide protections to the core calving grounds of the Bluenose caribou herd. As most of you are aware, it is a long-standing policy of this government to protect caribou across the Arctic, and to take the steps necessary to achieve that objective. Some have suggested, in proposing changes to the boundaries of the park, that the area being requested to be excluded would not have an impact on those calving grounds. The science I have been provided indicates otherwise. In fact, in most of the years for which observations were made, including 1978, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, and again in 1988, caribou were indeed observed during the calving period in the area that has been suggested for exclusion from the national park. As recently as the last two years, satellite surveys through collars have also indicated that the core calving ground, as indicated on the maps you have seen for the park, are indeed accurate.

The area that has been suggested for exclusion is indeed well within the core calving area, as defined by expert wildlife biologists working in conjunction with all 12 of the communities which depend upon the herd. There can be no doubt that a policy that includes the protection of the Bluenose caribou herd must include the boundaries established in 1996 in order to be effective.

In addition, there are international considerations with respect to the protection of caribou. The Prime Minister has spoken clearly and consistently over the years to urge the government of the United States to protect the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd in Alaska. I firmly believe that it is absolutely essential that we display consistency to the Americans if we are to have credibility in insisting that they protect caribou herds under their jurisdiction.

In addition, the park will protect other wildlife, such as muskox, grizzly bears, wolves, and the endangered peregrine falcon.

I would be remiss if I did not indicate the natural beauty and landscapes we are trying to protect through the establishment of this national park in Natural Region 15. This includes tundra landscape and Arctic rivers with deep gorges, including the spectacular La Roncière Falls.

I recognize that the Inuvialuit share these concerns for the protection of this special area and for the conservation of the critical habitat of the Bluenose caribou herd. In 1989, they originally suggested this national park be pursued as one of the methods of providing that protection. They insisted that the company relinquish its prospecting permits in the proposed park area in 1994, and they are among the parties who made a commitment to the park by negotiating and signing the 1996 agreement.

I should like to turn my attention to the process that has transpired in the establishment of this park. I want to assure all members of the committee that the process has been inclusive, exhaustive and transparent. I want to assure you that all requests and all information have been considered, evaluated and acted upon in what I believe to be the best overall interests of all the parties concerned.

The idea of a national park, as I said earlier, in this area was first raised by local people, by the Inuvialuit themselves. It was first mentioned in 1989 as part of the Paulatuk Community Conservation Plan. The community approached us in Parks Canada requesting that the Government of Canada proceed with protecting this area by way of a national park. There followed several years of consultation and exhaustive studies. Significant public input was obtained, evaluated and eventually put in the format of an agreement that all parties could agree to.

During that process, it was recognized that a geological anomaly existed in the area and that this anomaly indicated a medium to high level of mineral potential. This was known almost from the moment that this area was first being considered. In 1994, as part of the park establishment process, Darnley Bay Resources Limited, the company that holds the mineral rights to that area, at the request of the Inuvialuit themselves, voluntarily withdrew their prospecting permits within the proposed park area. From the information that is on the record, they withdrew these interests, not because they felt there was no opportunity to exploit the resource but because they believed it was the right and responsible thing to do. In fact, the President of the day, Mr. La Prairie, stated in the letter:

I strongly feel that this was the necessary step towards the preservation of such "natural significant landscapes" as Tuktut Nogait, as well as for the future of the Inuvialuit settlement.

He continued by saying:

-- I have grown to understand the importance of projects such as yours which will hopefully bring full protection to the many important attributes unique to this part of Canada.

I believe Darnley Bay Resources Limited acted in good faith. They acted with the realization that there is a need to manage the development of our natural resources and to do so in a way that protects our natural heritage.

Clearly, the park was established, not because the land had no value but, rather, because the principles of preservation and protection were considered paramount.

In 1996, a six-party agreement was signed to establish the park, to create a park management board, and to set out the park boundaries. With the exception of formalization through amendments to the National Parks Act, the job had been completed.

I would highlight the fact that, under the agreement, the park management board has five members. Only two members are appointed by the federal minister, one of whom is recommended by the territorial government, while two members are appointed by Inuvialuit parties to the agreement, and a fifth member is jointly agreed to and becomes the chair.

The members of the board have already been appointed. Three of the five members are Inuvialuit, two of whom are from the local community of Paulatuk. The board is operating effectively to advise on park planning and operations.

In the agreement that was signed in 1996, a section was included that allowed for the review of the agreement. The section, however -- and I have a copy of it here -- does not state that such a review could be initiated by a single party but that a review must be a unanimously agreed to by all parties. Section 22.1 states that any party may request a review by the parties of part or all of this agreement. As you know, Mr. Chairman, that has occurred. It also states that, if all the parties agree, they shall initiate the review within 90 days of the request.

It has also been suggested that such a section was specifically included at the request of the Inuvialuit because of concerns respecting mineral exploration on the western boundary. I have been advised that those negotiators who were at the table at the time do not have that interpretation of what took place. They have confirmed that at no time during the course of the seven years of consultation and negotiations, did anyone on the federal negotiating team represent that the purpose of section 22 was to accommodate boundary adjustments for mineral exploration or development purposes. In fact, it is interesting that the section is a standard section that is incorporated in all modern park agreements.

I am sure that you, Mr. Chairman, and the committee are aware of the request to review the boundaries based on the potential of mineral exploration, and that you are being told that such a request is coming forward now because there has been new information regarding the potential within the park.

Let me be clear. The potential of mineral exploration in that area has always been moderate to high. That has been known since the beginning of this process. Although there is a suggestion that such mineral reserves may be closer to the surface than first thought, this continues to be speculative and can, perhaps, only be confirmed after additional exploration.

I will call your attention to the letter of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in 1997 which provided Darnley Bay Resources Limited with permission to conduct that area of research in the area. I should like to read from that letter in respect of the permission so that no one was under any illusions. This is the authorization to do the 1997 work. The letter states:

-- Darnley Bay should be aware that no boundary change to the designated National Park is foreseen. As such, any exploration activity undertaken within the designated Park boundary, by Darnley Bay or any other company, should be for the purpose of gathering scientific data to aid in regional geological interpretation and not for the investigation of mineral potential within the designated Park.

We have not acted precipitously or in haste with regard to the request we have received. I have personally met with Nellie Cournoyea, chairman of the regional corporation, and I have met personally with the Minister of Resources Wildlife and Economic Development for the Government of the Northwest Territories. I have also met with my officials and others. We arrived at a decision to maintain the boundaries as agreed to in the 1996 agreement, largely because we do not believe there has been a significant change in circumstances and because we strongly believe in the importance of protecting the integrity of our national parks system.

I should like to turn for a moment to the issue of economic development. I wish to make it clear that it is a priority not only of Parks Canada but also of the Government of Canada to provide opportunities for economic development for all Canadians, including those in the north, particularly aboriginal people such as the residents of Paulatuk. Any suggestion that we do not want to assist the Inuvialuit with economic development is simply inconsistent with the facts.

First, it should be pointed that a full 80 per cent of the mineralized anomaly is outside the park boundaries and is available for exploration. In fact, Darnley Bay continues to raise capital for their projects in this area and is active in exploration and development outside the park boundaries.

The park's existence will provide long-term jobs, both permanent and seasonal. It will not be a panacea. It will not solve all the economic problems. However, it will be a step in that direction. In this fiscal year alone, Parks Canada is spending approximately $200,000 for staffing, $260,000 on the purchases of goods and services in the area, and $450,000 for capital expenditures. In fact, over the next 10 years we expect to spend upwards of $10 million in the area.

As part of our obligations in that area, the parks management board is working with the Government of the Northwest Territories and Parks Canada to prepare a community development plan for Paulatuk. The board has also begun work on interim management guidelines for the park. On May 1, 1998, we signed a memorandum of understanding that commits Parks Canada to contract with Inuvialuit-owned businesses for the construction of the Tuktut Nogait National Park office and the chief park warden residence in Paulatuk. In fact, the Parks Canada's contract with a local firm in Paulatuk was worth $220,000 and that construction is now largely complete.

With respect to employment, we are working closely with the Inuvialuit. Parks Canada presented a career fair in Paulatuk this spring in support of our second year of recruitment in order to ensure that we can recruit people from the local areas to work in our parks. Inuvialuit participated in the hiring boards for three park positions and for the position of Cultural Resource Management Officer in the Western Arctic district office in Inuvik. Parks Canada and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation are collaborating in the preparation of a Parks Canada-Inuvialuit employment strategy. I was pleased to note that, on July 8 of this year, Ms Cournoyea wrote to thank Parks Canada for their efforts in drafting this document and indicated that, "...there do not appear to be any major areas of contention or shortfall that would delay timely completion and acceptance of this strategy by both parties".

Finally, I should like to talk about the issue of protecting the integrity of our national parks. It was suggested to me by many that, inasmuch as formal legislation establishing the boundaries of this park had not yet been passed, there was no risk in entertaining such a proposal. Let me make it clear that there is, indeed, such a risk. We have this situation not only with Tuktut Nogait but also with a number of other agreements for national parks areas that are not yet protected under the National Parks Act and which would be placed at risk by any decision to amend agreed upon boundaries.

These areas, which Canadians view as long-standing national parks -- for example, Pacific Rim, Gros Morne, Pukaskwa, Grasslands, Aulavik, Wapuska and Bruce Peninsula -- would be subject to pressure for similar boundary changes. Last week, Senator Cochrane spoke of the need to protect Gros Morne. To change this agreed-upon boundary would place these special places at risk.

It is absolutely essential that we protect the integrity of our national parks and of our national park agreements. We understand clearly that we make a decision as a society to protect our special spaces. We do so not because we do not believe that they are good for anything else and not because we do not believe that there are sacrifices involved. We do this because, as Canadians, we believe that it is important to protect these places for future generations.

That is why we create national parks and that is why this legislation is before the Senate today. I request that this committee report back positively to the Senate. I would be pleased to answer any questions at this time.

The Chairman: At the outset, I wish to request a copy of the letters that you read into the record.

Senator Adams: Minister, how long have you been working in Parks Canada?

Mr. Mitchell: About 15 months.

Senator Adams: Have you been up to the Tuktut Nogait National Park Reserve?

Mr. Mitchell: No. I have not seen the park.

Senator Adams: You spoke about the other parks in Canada but you know that this one will be different. People across Canada visit the other the parks that you are managing now. You pay to enter those parks and the government earns money from that. With this new park, however, you will be spending $10 million to create jobs for two people. In the meantime, you will be stopping mining exploration we pass Bill C-38. Are you concerned about that?

Mr. Mitchell: It is not a situation where, out of the blue, someone has suddenly decided to draw a space on a map and withdraw the land and create a national park. This is a process that the local community itself initiated. They came to Parks Canada and told us that they believed that the instrument of a national park would be a good tool for protection in that area. That followed seven years of consultation and negotiation in order to determine the boundaries, how it should be managed, and how to achieve the maximum economic benefits from the establishment of that park. All parties then voluntarily sat down in 1996 and came to that agreement. Once that agreement was in place, it required that the Senate and the House of Commons pass legislation to formalize it.

This is not a situation of simply someone from down south deciding, all of a sudden, that they will draw lines on a map and take it out of commission. This was a long, transparent process, and one which required negotiation and which actively included the participation of the local community.

Senator Adams: Do the 40,000 members of the Canadian Nature Federation influence the development of the park?

Mr. Mitchell: I believe that the vast majority of Canadians -- that is, aboriginals, non-aboriginals and people of the First Nations -- believe in the protection of our special places and see national parks as one of the tools to achieve that.

It is important, indeed essential, that we do that in a cooperative and collaborative way. That is why, from 1989 to 1996, those negotiations and discussions took place with the local community.

If you are asking me, senators, whether I believe it is appropriate to take certain parts of this country and to put them under the protection of the National Parks Act and to exclude from those areas natural resource harvesting, then my answer is yes.

Senator Adams: As you know some people are very concerned with land claims in that area. I am sure you are familiar with the Sahtu agreement and the fact that caribou go into the area near the copper mine, and that people in Nunavut around the area of the copper mine are hunting those caribou. Who do you mean when you refer to parties to the agreement?

Mr. Mitchell: There are six parties to the agreement. Four of them are Inuvialuit organizations. One of them is the Government of the Northwest Territories. One of them is the federal government. There are six parties to the agreement.

Senator Adams: According to this agreement, any land claim that is settled in the future -- perhaps including the Sahtu agreement and the Inuvialuit agreement -- should include some provision concerning future mining rights and royalties. Is that true?

Mr. Mitchell: My understanding is that the land claim agreements do in fact provide that opportunity. At Parks Canada, as a matter of policy, we allow for traditional activities to take place on the land, even if it is re-drawn as a national park. There are extensive mining opportunities outside the park. The mining companies have certainly shown an interest. The Inuvialuit are working with the mining companies to deal with those resources.

There is a philosophical issue here: Does one believe it is appropriate to take a selected portion of our natural heritage and to protect it for future generations; or do we believe that is not an appropriate response, and that we should simply allow all of the territory to be open for development and let the chips fall where they may?

I am a firm believer that it is important to provide national park protection to certain areas of this country and to do that in a way which includes consultation with the parties that are affected, and to come to agreements with the parties that are affected. That is exactly what we did in 1996 with this particular park.

Senator Adams: After 15 months on the job in your office, are you familiar at all with the caribou and how they migrate every year?

Mr. Mitchell: I am not scientist, senator. I depend upon the scientific evidence that is provided to me.

I understand the point you are making, senator. You are quite right. I do not come from that community. I have not lived in that community.

Senator Adams: That is why I am asking you.

Mr. Mitchell: That is why, senator, we do not go in and establish national parks by simply going up there, drawing lines on a map and then coming to this house and saying: So be it; there is a national park. That is why seven years were spent in discussions with the local communities. We came to an agreement which was entered freely by them.

In this particular case -- and it is a little different from some -- the original request to consider a national park in this area came from the community itself. This is not a situation of folks from down south going up north -- and I understand your concern about that -- and simply saying that this is the way it shall be. That is not what has taken place here.

Senator Adams: You have set the boundaries and now, when you are being asked for a piece of those 100,000-some acres, you refuse. The caribou may not return to the same park every year, but they may be somewhere near the park. Parks Canada can employ only two people up there, spending $10 million, while the mining company wants open a mine, without interfering with the caribou, but they cannot.

I have been up there and seen the caribou herds. They go where they want to go and if there are people there, they do not mind; they come right to you. If a mine is developed there, will the caribou leave the area?

Mr. Mitchell: Senator, all of those things you say are quite true.

Senator Adams: Yes, I know. I lived up there.

Mr. Mitchell: Those things were also true in 1996 and the parties, including the local community, signed the agreement. In 1996, folks could have said that they were not happy with the proposed agreement and that they did not want a park. They could have simply refused to sign. That option was available. No one was twisting anyone's arm to enter into an agreement. It was done freely.

The request to extinguish the mining rights for Darnley Bay came from the local community. It did not come from us. The mining company, in response, said that they understood the local people's concern and they were willing to forego their activity in the area. That is what took place.

Approximately 80 per cent of the mining potential continues to be outside the designated park area and is available to help with the economic development of the local population.

The Chairman: I have to comment, though, Mr. Mitchell, that things are not quite the way you express them. The agreement says that any party may request a review by the parties of part or all of this agreement, period.

Mr. Mitchell: With all due respect, senator, in fairness you should read all of that section.

The Chairman: I have. The other portion refers to the 90 days. I want you to know that there are other interpretations of that section that Ms Cournoyea gave to us today. I must say I agree more with her interpretation.

Senator Chalifoux: In your statement, you talked about the survival of the caribou, the eagle, and the land. Yet, I find it difficult to accept that you have not addressed the survival of the people. There is 95 per cent unemployment in that area. The suicide rate is 10 times greater than in the south. The list goes on and on. I am sure you are aware of the problems.

You talk about employment. You had a career development day. Did you offer education in that community; or must they come south to be educated so that the people are lost to the communities? Have you considered that, or has your department considered that?

Mr. Mitchell: That is essentially outside the specific scope of the department. The broader issues that you are talking about in terms of economic development in the North and the need to provide economic activity for people of the North is one that has certainly been taken up by this government. It is one which seizes my colleague, the Minister of Indian Affairs, who primarily holds those responsibilities and who has worked actively on that.

It is important to remember that this is not a situation where anyone is going up North and excluding the land from all kinds of economic development opportunities. One portion of that area, and a relatively small portion, was set aside in 1996 with the agreement of the parties based on an interest which exists in addition to the economic interests that you mention. That interest is one of preservation and protection.

In the national parks system, particularly when we operate in the north, we try to find the appropriate balance between protection and preservation and the need to pursue economic development. For example, 80 per cent of the mining potential lies outside the parks. When we do establish a park, we do it in a way that will provide as much economic activity as possible.

I am not trying to suggest that, when we open a park, it is a panacea and creates a lot of employment. However, we do try to ensure that whatever economic activity we generate does benefit the local community.

Senator Chalifoux: The language in the north is not English or French. There are a lot of English words and French words that are not in the language of the north. The Inuvialuit had asked to have a clause in that agreement so that they could request a review -- and our chairman has mentioned that also.

Interpretation means a lot. What you have interpreted in one way, the community has interpreted in a different way. Has your department ever negotiated with, taught, or included the people of the north in this latest round of boundary disputes?

Mr. Mitchell: Indeed. I met with Ms Cournoyea and the Minister from the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife in February and had those discussions.

There are a number of different things on the table. First, there is the clause in question. The chairman and I have disagreed in the interpretation of that clause. Ms Cournoyea has a particular interpretation of that clause. The people who represented the federal government in that negotiation said clearly that they never intended that it could be opened for mining. It would seem to me that, if that were the specific reason or concern for having that clause in there, it would have found its way into the agreement.

There is, however, another issue here. That same clause ends up in all our modern parks agreements. It is not unique to this bill. When somebody suggests to me that that clause was put in this bill to meet a specific concern, but then you find that that same clause is replicated in other agreements, then it is clear that a number of things are on the table that must be sorted through.

Senator Chalifoux: When the Inuvialuit wanted jobs they opted for a park and Parks Canada was willing to change boundaries in the negotiations then; so why not now?

Mr. Mitchell: When we negotiate parks prior to signing an agreement, oftentimes changes take place. One of the reasons for the discussions and negotiations is so that there can be mutual agreement by the parties. The park agreement is different from the withdrawal of the land. The normal process is to withdraw a large area of land, and then work in negotiations to decide on the specific area that is going to be the park.

In the process between having the big area withdrawn and coming down to the specific area, many changes are made. Once we agree on the boundaries of a national park, we do not start to change them so that we can have economic activity within the park. It is not just Tuktut Nogait National Park that is at issue here. Do we want to see portions of Gros Morne taken out of that park in order to allow logging in there? Do we want to see Pacific Rim made smaller so that logging can take place there? Do we want to allow gas exploration to take place in Grasslands National Park? That is the issue.

If we agree that these are the boundaries of the park -- and we have seven parks at that stage right now -- and then we agree to change those boundaries to allow a mining company to operate in that area, then how do we respond to a forestry company, a gas and oil company or another mining company who ask to be allowed into other parks?

Senator Chalifoux: You do not want to set a precedent.

Mr. Mitchell: Absolutely.

The Chairman: We have before us a bill, Mr. Minister, that sets the boundaries of these parks. In the other examples the boundaries have been set by legislation, have they not?

Mr. Mitchell: No.

What we have is a parks agreement and then the boundaries will become formalized when we amend the National Parks Act.

The Chairman: In each of those examples you outlined, are you suggesting that the boundaries have not been set by statute?

Mr. Mitchell: No they have not.

The Chairman: Have they been set by regulation or by any other instrument?

Mr. Mitchell: They have been set by a parks agreement. The same situation applies to this park.

The Chairman: Now you are approaching us, through the parliamentary process, to ask us to legislate certain boundaries. Is it not fair then, for us as a committee, to listen to the various interests as to whether or not those boundaries are appropriate? Surely, that is why we are here.

Mr. Mitchell: Senator, every single national park that we have established in modern day has gone through this process. In every case, the issue before parliamentarians was whether they would concur in establishing a national park.

As part of the amendment process, obviously, there must be a legal description of what is being considered. In that sense, boundaries were established. What we had not done -- it does not mean the power is not there to do it -- is change the boundaries after we have arrived at agreements.

We have tried to maintain the integrity of our national park boundaries. The question is a valid one, senator. If you make the change in this instance and do not protect the area as originally agreed to in order to allow for mining activity, then what will we say when other natural resource companies of various sorts come to us in those other seven areas? If logging or oil and gas companies tell you that they can now ecomonically log or extract oil and gas from under those park grasslands, how will you respond?

The Chairman: Each case must be assessed on its own merits.

Senator Hays: You know that those of us in particular on the government side want to support this legislation. However, some reservations have been expressed, particularly by those of aboriginal background, and that has prompted us to carefully examine this bill.

Could you elaborate on what has been touched on already? It is laudable that Parks Canada pursues involving communities in the development of parks by region and subsequently their management. You raise the issue of the integrity of the system and the risk of what a change here would involve relative to other parks.

If the process of community involvement is being followed in those other areas, surely there is as much risk that boundaries will be difficult to set. You say they have not been set because of reservations of stakeholders, in particular the aboriginal communities, if they are involved. There have been difficulties and they have withheld their support. You have what I see as a situation analogous to a less developed, less sophisticated country, in the negotiation that preceded the establishment of these boundaries; although I may be doing them an injustice.

If all parties to an agreement agree to renegotiate, you do not need a provision to cover that. I think, as the chairman has said, what the community is asking for here is legitimate. The bill is now being dealt with by Parliament. Apart from the unanimity issue, I think it is in order for them to make their case, as they have. Perhaps that section in Parks Canada procedures should be reviewed. If any opening up of the agreement is necessary for review, a reference to unanimity is irrelevant. If all parties agree to open it up, they can open up anything to which the parties have agreed previously.

I would appreciate a further comment on the issue of integrity of park boundaries and getting along with the stakeholders in future.

Mr. Mitchell: You have raised a number of issues, and I will try to touch on some of them.

In terms of coming to an agreement on the boundaries, there were seven years of discussion, negotiation, and consultation. All the parties freely entered into an agreement on what the boundaries ought to be.

I have dealt with people. I believe the Inuvialuit are as good negotiators as anyone else. They were in a good position -- and continue to be in a good position, as demonstrated today -- to make their case. There was a seven-year process. An agreement was struck and signed by all parties to establish and manage a park. We just left the next step to be formalized by legislation.

As to whether you need the review provision or not, you may have an agreement that does not allow any alteration. Those agreements exist. It does not matter. You cannot have any alteration. It is as simple as that. This is an agreement that does allow for an alteration when all the parties agree to alter it. That is what this agreement is. However, that is not the case in this particular instance.

I do not know if I have answered your question.

Senator Hays: When you are dealing with other parks, will it be easier or more difficult to make agreements on boundaries because of the insistence here on not reviewing them? The question is prompted by my view that it is a good idea for Parks Canada to involve communities in the way that they have, and to listen to them.

The whole reason for this long hearing today is that at a late stage, after seven years of negotiation, in 1996 the parties reach an agreement. In 1997 some company flies over the area and finds some hot spots. In 1998, when the legislation is about to be passed there is a request to vary the western boundary of the park.

Perhaps it is too late to do it at this stage, and that is why the integrity issue arises. However, leading up to a final settlement on the boundaries, will this insistence today make it easier or harder to set boundaries on other parks? You say easier, and I am wondering if it might not be harder. I do not expect you to agree with that, but it is going through my mind.

Mr. Mitchell: With the agreements that have already been set, it will make it easier to put that into legislation. You may be referring to trying to establish parks that have not yet been considered. This will make it clear that when all the parties agree on a specific boundary, then that is what it will be. That brings a more cautious attitude to the table, and that would probably be positive.

This is not something that was discovered in 1997. The medium to high mineral potential was known back in 1989 when these discussions first started. This was not a case where all the parties thought that they had a piece of territory that held no potential and therefore they would make a park out of it. That is not what this is about. This is a piece of territory where a mining company had staked out some rights. This is a piece of property where the survey indicated medium to high potential. People entered into an agreement knowing that.

There was a survey done in 1997 to which DIAND gave permission on the basis that it would not lead to a boundary change. It was clearly stated that this was supposed to be for regional research, not for specific minerals. Therefore, we are not in a situation where, all of a sudden, everything is different. Some nuances are different. There is the indication that some of the minerals may be closer to the surface than had been originally expected. The fact that there was potential mining there was known in 1994 when Darnley Bay were asked to relinquish their rights.

Mr. Chairman, as you said, we have these seven parks being dealt with in this proposed legislation. Should the bill be passed, the agreements will be formalized. In reality, as the two Houses of Parliament, we have the power to change an existing park. I do not think we would. What might be the consequences? What happens if, all of a sudden, someone discovers mineral potential in Banff National Park or Jasper National Park and mining is economically feasible? Will we entertain a proposal that we should just take a small sliver off there and utilize that for natural resources?

Approximately 2 per cent to 3 per cent of our landmass is in our national parks system. We are not talking about prohibiting economic development in massive tracts of Canada. We are simply saying that there are special places in Canada and that we will protect a representative number of them as part of our national parks system.

The Chairman: I do not want to be misunderstood. Along with all the other members of this committee, I am committed to our national parks system and its preservation. However, we must also consider that this is a very remote park where five of the six signatories to the agreement now wish development to be considered. This is not particularly problematic at this point, other than in regard to some sketchy information we have received relative to the movement of the caribou herds. I want to get more detail on that. It is difficult for you to make the analogies you are making because of the nature of this particular park. I am not for one moment advocating you open up your parks to all kinds of exploration and activities. We have seen some disasters we do not want to replicate.

Senator Fitzpatrick: Welcome, Secretary of State Mitchell. I am interested in knowing what attempt was made to estimate the potential value of the minerals, the number of jobs that might be created, and the possible contribution to the economy of the area.

I should also like to know your view on the possibility of buffer restrictions on those mineral claims you indicate as being outside the park boundaries.

Mr. Mitchell: From my understanding, we do not have legislation that allows for buffer zones to be established around national parks. I know there is a debate on whether they should or should not exist, at what distance, and on what type of activity you would allow in any potential buffer zone.

In terms of a specific economic analysis, I suspect one could not be done at this point. If I understand it correctly -- and I am not a mining expert -- the whole issue now is one of potential. Until you have some way of estimating an actual reserve of ore, it would be very difficult to make an economic assessment because you would not know whether a mine would be in force for 10, 25 or 50 years. I do not know if that could be determined.

I do know that the people who were parties to the agreement knew when they signed that there was a medium to high potential for an economic mineral deposit.

Senator Fitzpatrick: I believe you know that I have a background in the mining industry. I must tell you, when I hear that there is medium to high potential in an area, that gets my attention, because it often means something in the industry.

I am wondering why there was no attempt to try to quantify that. Obviously, I realize that to make any definite estimates, you need to do exploration drilling and surveys. However, high potential means something to the mining industry and I would like to know what was done to determine what that might have meant to the area.

Mr. Mitchell: I cannot answer that, senator; however, I can speak to it in a broader way. In 1994, the medium to high potential existed. There was also a situation where we determined that we wanted a park designed to protect the calving grounds of the caribou.

A decision was made. The Inuvialuit asked the company, since we were contemplating a park to protect the core calving ground of the caribou, to withdraw the company's mining rights, which they did. It then became a moot point. They had voluntarily withdrawn their mining rights, not because they did not believe there was potential there, but because of the other principles of preservation and protection. The decision was made to follow those principles. In this particular area, which was to be the national park, there would be no exploitation of the anomaly.

That does not mean the anomaly will not be exploited. If I remember correctly from reading the material, there are six high potential sites, five of which lie outside the boundary of the park. Therefore, the opportunities for economic development are still there.

Senator Butts: I may be being repetitive, because this has come up several times. However, I wish to address what I think is the core difficulty here which is that witnesses have told us that there was new information in the second study. I understood one witness to say that the original estimate was that there was moderate to low potential.

If it is moderate to high both times and the only difference is in estimating how near it is to the surface, do we have it on record that there is no new information that will change the issue? To me, that is the key.

Mr. Mitchell: I am going to read from the geological survey of Canada file 2789 -- covering the area we are talking about -- which was done in 1994. This is a public document. It says that a moderate to high reading is assigned to the Darnley Bay gravity and magnetic anomaly.

Mr. Hays: Does it cover the region in question?

Mr. Mitchell: The definition it gives is, assigned to the Darnley Bay gravity and magnetic anomaly. There is a map that shows exactly the location. This is a public document. We will ensure that you get a copy of it.

The Chairman: Would you do that, please. In conclusion, the report that came to us from the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation this morning contained a section that indicated that the southern and eastern boundaries of Tuktut Nogait have not yet been settled. Is that true?

Mr. Mitchell: Not exactly, Mr. Chairman. Let me explain. The situation that exists today is exactly the same situation that existed when the agreement was signed in 1996. That is, that we envision that there will be a larger park at some point in time. There will be three when we are finished, and there are negotiations in the other two areas, one with Nunavut and one with the Sahtu Dene. Those discussions are continuing with those parties.

Let me make it clear that our situation with those two groups, who need to come on board in order to create the broader park, is exactly the same situation we were in when this agreement was signed in 1996. Nothing has changed in that respect.

Since we had an agreement with one group, the boundaries for that group were established. We will deal with the other two groups, and continue to do so after we come to an agreement. It will work under the same process. Nothing has changed.

The Chairman: The fact remains two of the boundaries of this same park are not yet established. The southern and eastern boundaries are not yet defined.

Mr. Mitchell: No, that is not the right way of saying it, Mr. Chairman. The park that will exist will be the park that is set out in the agreement we have with the Inuvialuit.

At some point, if negotiations are successful, we may add to the park. We will not alter the boundaries of what will exist; we will add another component to the park. That is not an unusual situation. I believe when we added territory to Kejimikujik in Nova Scotia, we simply added that on as an annex to the park. We did not change the boundaries of the park.

If the same legislative framework exists in the future, we will have a separate amendment to the park to add that territory. It will not be an amendment to change the boundaries.

The Chairman: We were advised this morning that the individuals in the Inuvialuit region were taken by surprise by the introduction of the proposed legislation, had no notice whatsoever that it was forthcoming, and only found out about it on the Internet. Could you respond to that suggestion?

Mr. Mitchell: Actually, Mr. Chairman, after having met with Ms Cournoyea and with the minister, I wrote a letter to her on March 25, prior to tabling the bill. In the last paragraph, I say that it is our intention to have the bill to formally establish this national park tabled expeditiously in the House of Commons.

I might add, the media came to me and asked about the contents of the letter. I said clearly that I would not comment on the letter. It has not yet been received at the other end. I would allow them to make their comments as they see fit.

I did write a letter to Ms Cournoyea indicating clearly that I had considered the arguments that she had made to me at the time of our meeting, and I gave reasons why I made a decision to proceed. I gave an indication that I was going to proceed with proposed legislation.

As I said, when the press asked me about that, I clearly directed them to the other party so that they had an opportunity to make comments about it before I did.

The Chairman: Would you table the letter with us?

Mr. Mitchell: Yes, I will.

The Chairman: Finally, you mentioned that you received reports on the calving grounds from biologists and wildlife experts. Could you give us the names of those individuals? I would very much like to have them here before this committee. Could you tell us, on whose advice did you make these considerations?

Mr. Mitchell: I am being told and I will get the name for you. He is an employee of the NWT.

The Chairman: That is the individual upon whom you relied?

Mr. Mitchell: He is the chief wildlife biologist who covers this area.

Senator Buchanan: I may have missed this in the discussion, but what is the position of the government of the Northwest Territories on these changes that have been asked for?

Mr. Mitchell: My understanding of the position is this: I have searched the records and we do not have a formal request from them. However, in fairness, they have publicly stated that they support the Inuvialuit groups in their request. So that is probably splitting hairs, senator. They have made it clear where they stand.

The Chairman: Thank you very much for your presence here this morning. This is a very important subject and I am sure we are all very supportive of the creation of the park. There us one element that is causing us some concern, as is evident.

Mr. Mitchell: I always enjoy spending time with my Senate colleagues.

The Chairman: Thank you very much.

The committee adjourned.