Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 02, 2014 - 3:50 pm

Arctic Council brings polluters to Nunavut meeting: Greenpeace

Greenpeace and AC chair Leona Aglukkaq continue to spar

Leona Aglukkaq presides over the Arctic Economic Council meeting in Iqaluit Sept. 2. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LEONA AGLUKKAQ/FACEBOOK)
Leona Aglukkaq presides over the Arctic Economic Council meeting in Iqaluit Sept. 2. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LEONA AGLUKKAQ/FACEBOOK)
Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Farrah Khan. (FILE PHOTO)
Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Farrah Khan. (FILE PHOTO)

Environmental group Greenpeace dumped on Arctic Council chair Leona Aglukkaq as she hosts closed-door meetings in Iqaluit this week, accusing the federal environment minister of cozying up to “some of the biggest polluters on the planet.”

Greenpeace and Aglukkaq exchanged words publicly Sept. 2, as the two continue to bicker over who better serves Canadian Inuit.

Aglukkaq is hosting the inaugural meeting of the Arctic Economic Council, a body that the federal environment minister boasted would help northerners become real Arctic “decision makers,” Aglukkaq said in a speech at the council’s founding meeting Sept. 2.

The meetings are closed to the public, but in her speech, Aglukkaq took what would be her second public swipe at Greenpeace — her first was at the Inuit Circumpolar Council assembly in July — accusing them and other southern-based groups of exploiting Aboriginal peoples for their own purposes.

“These groups do not base their campaigns on what is in the best interest of northerners, they don’t even base their campaigns on science. They base them on what their agendas are,” she said in the speech, which was emailed to Nunatsiaq News.

Although Aglukkaq didn’t mention Greenpeace by name, she ridiculed a commentary the group published recently in Nunatsiaq News and other newspapers, that apologizes for the damage their anti-sealing campaigns had inflicted on the sustainable Inuit seal hunt.

“An apology is nice but in this case it doesn’t cut it. No letter to the editor will ever undo the damage done through this campaign,” Aglukkaq said.

“For the second time this year, Minister Aglukkaq has criticized Greenpeace for making sincere amends with northern communities,” said Greenpeace’s Arctic campaign spokeswoman Farrah Khan in a Sept. 2 release.

“But, while she hosts closed-door meetings with some of the biggest polluters on the planet, we are cleaning up oil spills in the north of Russia, and are helping to raise awareness about the harms of seismic testing that threaten Baffin Bay.”

Khan went on to accuse the new economic forum, created under Canada’s Arctic Council chairmanship, of having a pro-industry agenda.

“The creation of the Arctic Economic Council has raised concerns from both inside and outside the Arctic Council’s exclusive inner circle since the idea was introduced at the start of Canada’s chairmanship,” Khan said. “It has evolved into an all access pass for big oil to assert direct influence over Arctic decision makers.”

Canada first proposed a standalone, self-supporting circumpolar business forum after assuming the eight-nation Arctic Council’s chairmanship in May 2013.

That concept has evolved into a body that will be self-governing, but linked to the Arctic Council in many ways.

Delegates from Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland, along with representatives from various circumpolar businesses and Arctic indigenous peoples, are expected to endorse that and other principles at this week’s meeting in Iqaluit.

Aglukkaq touted the new body as one that will create a business-to-business network across the north, while also acting as a link between business and government.

And, Aglukkaq noted Sept. 2, the Arctic Economic Council will include indigenous peoples in its decision-making process.

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