Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Chairman: Thank you for a well-prepared and presented brief. It was very
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mr. Mitchell: I always enjoy spending time with my Senate colleagues.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
The committee adjourned.