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Government of Canada introduces legislation for responsible co-management of Arctic resources



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The Government of Canada is taking action to protect Canada’s rich natural environment, respect the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples, and support a resilient Canadian natural resource sector, in order to help ensurea healthy environment and prosperous future for Northern communities.

Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, introduced Bill C-88, An Act to Amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, in the House of Commons.

The proposed changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) respond to concerns raised by Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories about parts of the 2014 Northwest Territories Devolution Act. This legislation seeks to repeal parts of the 2014 legislation that were challenged in court. By listening to Northerners, the Government is ensuring that policies better reflect their interests and their realities.

The proposed changes to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act support the Government’s commitment to a renewed framework for co-managing Arctic offshore resources by allowing the Governor in Council to issue orders, when in the national interest, to prohibit oil and gas activities and freeze the terms of existing licenses to prevent them from expiring while the prohibition is in place.

The changes would also allow the Government to establish a path forward for the strategic management of Arctic offshore oil and gas resources in collaboration with partners. Partners in the North have been clear that they want to be involved in the management of Arctic offshore oil and gas resources, and the Government has listened.

These amendments are part of the Government’s commitment to protect Canada’s rich natural environment, respect the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples, and support a resilient Canadian natural resources sector.


“We have listened carefully to the feedback of Northerners, territorial and Indigenous organizations and governments. The bill introduced today demonstrates our commitment to resolving their concerns. The proposed amendments would help maintain the efficient, predictable, and coherent management and use of land, water, and natural resources in the North that would both foster economic opportunities and growth and protect the environment for future generations.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade

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Bill C-88 – Amendments to the
Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA)

In 2014, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) was amended as part of legislation surrounding the devolution of the Northwest Territories. The legislation included changes that sought to restructure the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

At the time, a number of Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territoriesraised concerns about the planned restructuring. The Tłįchǫ Government and Sahtu Secretariat Inc. filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to suspend the related provisions. They were granted the injunction in February 2015.

In the spirit of respect and cooperation, the Government of Canada launched a consultation process with all relevant parties, including Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories, the territorial government, and other stakeholders to discuss a way forward for the MVRMA on September 23, 2016.

Following formal discussions with territorial Indigenous governments and organizations, and the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of Canada introduced a bill in the House of Commons on November 8, 2018 that addresses concerns about the 2014 changes to the MVRMA.

Bill C-88 proposes to repeal the provisions of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act that would have restructured the four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley, and instead retain the current board structure consisting of:

  • Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board;
  • Gwich’in Land and Water Board;
  • Sahtu Land and Water Board; and
  • Wek’èezhìi (Tłįchǫ) Land and Water Board.

The Bill also re-introduces regulatory provisions that were included in the Northwest Territories Devolution Act but did not come into force following the court injunction. These provisions have been drafted to function under the current four-board structure and provide for the following:

  • An enforceable development certificate scheme following environmental assessments and environmental impact reviews.
  • Clarification on equal proportions of nominees from government and Indigenous governments and organizations.
  • The extension of a board member’s term during a proceeding to ensure board quorum is maintained until the conclusion of an application decision.
  • A 10-day pause period between a board’s preliminary screening decision and the issuance of an authorization to allow for other bodies under the Act to refer a project to an environmental assessment.
  • An Administrative Monetary Penalty scheme that will provide inspectors with additional tools to enforce compliance under the Act.
  • Regional studies that provide the Minister with the discretion to appoint committees or individuals to study the effects of existing and future development on a regional basis.
  • The authority to develop cost-recovery regulations that would provide the Government with the ability to recover costs associated with proceedings.
  • The development of regulations respecting consultation, which would help clarify the procedural roles and responsibilities respecting Indigenous consultation.

The Government of Canada is committed to working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, provincial and territorial governments, and Canadians to ensure that legislation is clear, fair and appropriate to all Canadians. This bill supports the Government’s commitments to respect the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples and is an important step towards reconciliation.


Proposed Amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA)

In December 2016, as part of the Joint Arctic Leaders’ Statement, the Prime Minister announced an indefinite moratorium on new oil and gas rights in the Arctic offshore, to be reviewed every five years with a science assessment. The Government of Canada subsequently launched a one-year consultation process with existing oil and gas rights holders and with territorial and Northern Indigenous governments on their interests in the Arctic offshore.

The proposed amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA) give force to the December 2016 Joint Arctic Leaders’ Statement and were informed by feedback from rights holders and territorial and Northern Indigenous governments during consultations. Specifically, the proposed amendments to the CPRA would authorize the Governor in Council to issue an order, when in the national interest, prohibiting existing Exploration Licence and Significant Discovery Licence holders from carrying out any oil and gas activities. The effect of such an order would be to freeze the terms of the existing licences in the Arctic offshore and prevent the licenses from expiring while the prohibition order remains in place.

The proposed amendments supplement existing authorities under section 12(1) of the CPRA that authorize the Governor in Council to issue an order to prohibit oil and gas activities under certain circumstances.

The Canada Petroleum Resources Act regulates the disposition of oil and gas rights on federal Crown lands in the North and in Canada’s offshore areas not under federal-provincial co-management administration.

Associated Links

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act
Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Northwest Territories Devolution Act
Canada Petroleum Resources Act

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Editor - With a passion photo photography, webdesign and content, it made sense for me to also integrate news editing and press release publishing. I am also passionate about the car industry, so you will surely find some exciting news reporting from my side about the automotive industry.


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