Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 01, 2018 - 11:30 am

MLAs hound government over Grays Bay pullout

“This government should not be a brick wall to the opportunities of our Nunavummiut"

Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser, with Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak to his left, stands up in the Nunavut legislature May 31 to deliver harsh comments about the Nunavut government's decision to pull out of the Grays Bay and Port Project that earned him a reprimand from the speaker Joe Enook. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser, with Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak to his left, stands up in the Nunavut legislature May 31 to deliver harsh comments about the Nunavut government's decision to pull out of the Grays Bay and Port Project that earned him a reprimand from the speaker Joe Enook. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)

This week MLAs continued to hammer the territorial government on how it chooses to trim costs, as set out in its 2018-19 budget, tabled in the Nunavut legislature on Monday.

And they honed in on the government’s decision to back out of its partnership with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association as a proponent of the Grays Bay Road and Port Project.

Anger about that decision led to tense moments on Thursday afternoon, when Aivilik MLA Pat Netser accused the government of lying about how it backed out of the big western Nunavut project with the agreement of the KIA.

Netser said, “as a Kivallirmiuq, I also want our sister region in the Kitikmeot to know how I support their efforts into creating opportunities for their people.”

“I also want my fellow MLAs to know how the Kitikmeot Inuit Association was treated by this government in a disrespectful and unfair manner. It is a shame. This approach can also impact other region.”

His comments followed revelations on Wednesday when Economic Development Minister Joe Savikataaq said that the GN had decided to pull out of the Grays Bay project, even before the federal government had rejected its funding proposal under the federal trades corridors program.

That program would have covered 75 per cent of the project’s approximately $500-million price tag.

Under questioning from Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak, Savikataaq said the GN told the project’s proponent, the KIA, of its decision to pull out of Grays Bay before Ottawa had confirmed they had rejected the funding application.

Savikataaq said that decision flowed from the new government’s mandate, Turaaqtavut, produced at a retreat of all MLAs in Pond Inlet earlier this year.

“In Turaaqtavut we come up with our priorities and we’re all part of the Turaaqtavut mandate. We all agreed to it in Pond Inlet in full caucus. This is a new government and a new mandate,” Savikataaq said. “This new government decided that we have our priorities and we only have so much money to spend. We have the debt cap to worry about.”

That prompted Netser to accuse Savikataaq of lying. He said Grays Bay was never brought up in Pond Inlet.

“He says we all agreed to this mandate up in Pond Inlet to drop the Grays Bay road project. We did not discuss that, Mr. Speaker. Do any of you remember discussing the project? None of us. He lied to us,” Netser said.

His comment prompted a point of order, along with a reprimand from Speaker Joe Enook to watch his language: “We have to refrain from using certain phrases and words. Please be careful with the words and phrases that we use because we can be called to order.”

Lorne Kusugak, the minister for Community and Government Services, wanted an apology and retraction.

But Netser, while tempering his language, did not back down,

“We never agreed to withdraw our support for such an important project that Nunavut would benefit from.” he said. “To imply and to rationalize the GN’s withdrawal of support on the basis that we all agreed to [it] in Pond Inlet is misleading and false.

Even before Thursday’s explosion, Netser criticized the government’s pullout from the Grays Bay port and road project, which he said would have added $10 billion to the Nunavut economy.

Netser said he believes the government needs to “be a champion in moving major projects forward, such as the Grays Bay project, which will help this government create revenue and jobs for our people.”

“This government should not be a brick wall to the opportunities of our Nunavummiut,” he said.

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(22) Comments:

#1. Posted by eskimo joe on June 01, 2018

is nester now the economist of nunavut? 10 billion is far stretch for any jurisdiction in Canada; it cannot bring that much $$$ to Nunavut as a road. maybe to coral harbour, let alone nunavut. patterk, this number is figment of your ill informed imagination and for you standing up to grand stand at the house. where did you get this number, your magic wand or from kia boss? no road in nwt or nunavut could this much benefit in terms of $$$ to any northern economy except you happen to be operating mine, which kia or any organization will never benefit from maybe few peanuts per year. it only brings huge ego at the most to the “boss’ and few of his executives, and now to you patterk?

#2. Posted by Ghost Penny on June 01, 2018

What was the ‘Northern Lights Conference & Trade Show’ all about Grays Bay?  Please don’t tell me this dead penny is on someone’s bucket list.

#3. Posted by hey John main on June 01, 2018

looks like john main has been out grand stanned by Patterk

#4. Posted by dig more, find out more on June 01, 2018

Keep looking deeper into this. You will find that PQ and JS are lying to the house and to Nunavummiut. Never mind a point of order from the Speaker, how about non-confidence votes on the Premier and Minister of ED. Dirty politics they are playing over in Iqaluit, shame on you GN.

#5. Posted by Joe the Broke Eskimo on June 01, 2018

#1 10 billion I don’t think is a far stretch. Depends on the time line you look at. The resources in the ground have a value, reduced costs of sealift in the kitikmeot have a value, deep sea port access has a value, et . KIA owns part of TMAC, and gets an IBA which is more then peanuts. But the big thing is getting Nunavut away from only having Federal Government Money to spend. The Payroll Tax money alone from the Grays Bay Road construction would probably filter back millions to the GN, let alone once its operating and servicing mine sites. Nester is right when he also said we need more revenue, and maybe over 20 years its work $10 billion, but I don’t think its a stretch at all. And whats stopping the road from going to a community to like Kugluktuk in the future. We need to access the wealth to build housing, health centres, etc. The Fed Transfer money will dry up eventually!

#6. Posted by Penny Earned on June 01, 2018

What happened we have to spend money to make money!! Too bad the road building won’t have a night out with boozing and entertainment for mostly non Inuit beaurocrats!

#7. Posted by Terry on June 01, 2018

Whether Pat’s right or not, why do people choose to attack him.. shouldn’t the real question be “why is Cabinet and the Premier not telling the truth to the assembly”
Once again, people complaining about one thing, when they should be asking the real questions. This is why there’s never accountability in the GN.

#8. Posted by asker on June 01, 2018

heres the question who wrote Patterks questions?

i know for sure leona and Dennis Patterson did.

Patterk will read whatever they send him.

Conservative partisan talking points in NU, too funny

All of us in kitikmeot need new generation of leaders to step up

#9. Posted by Concerned & Disappointed Inuk on June 01, 2018

As a Kitikmeot beneficiary, I am really disappointed and disgusted at the GN for dropping it’s support for this project. This project will greatly benefit the beneficiaries with much needed training, employment and it will boost the local communities economy. It will also benefit the growth of Nunavut if you look at the big picture.

For you small minded people out there, do you really want Nunavut totally depended on the Federal Gov’t for funding? I think not. This project has a great potential for Nunavut to start being self-sufficient down the road, pardon the pun.

I am looking at this project for future generations for the betterment of the residence of the Kitikmeot and all the economic and new business spin-offs that this will generate. The entire territory of Nunavut will benefit by increasing the GDP.

I fully support a “NON-CONFIDENCE VOTE” for the current GN Cabinet, particularly the Premier and Minister of ED&T.

#10. Posted by Northern Guy on June 01, 2018

Bailing out on Gray’s Bay road was the first and only decision that this government has made that I can get behind 100%. Cudos to Premier Quassa and his Cabinet colleagues for seeing this project for what it really was corporate welfare. If the mines along the IZOK corridor are profitable enough then the mining companies and the KiTIA can get together and pay for it. This project was something that the taxpaying public should NEVER have been asked to fund.

#11. Posted by Way to discredit the messenger on June 01, 2018

I’m getting annoyed with the comments about “grand standing”. They are MLAs, elected officials, their job is to represent their constituents, it’s their job to raise some issues, it’s their job to debate in the legislative assembly and it’s their job to ask tough questions.

If someone does not have passion or convictions, they might as well stay home and watch TV.

Yes, there are rules about what and how they should say things, but overall, for people to keep saying that so and so is just grand standing totally misses the point.

#12. Posted by Baker Lake did it on June 01, 2018

Baker Lake and AEM did it, they got a road all without handouts from the government. Way to go Beautiful Baker Lake. Please people get away from this welfare mentality and not wait for others to give you money and get up and walk the walk as you sure can talk the talk. Thank you PQ for turning this down, waste of money. Spend the money on Nunavumiut not foreign mining companies. Hats off to PQ and his Cabinet.

#13. Posted by The Old Trapper on June 01, 2018

The bottom line in the Grays Bay debate is who will reap the benefits if the road is built. Any dispassionate analysis will show that the one sure beneficiary would be China Min Metals, a Chinese state owned company.

Now unless I miss my guess China does not need the GN, or the federal government to subsidize their mining in Nunavut. Yes there would be some benefits to the Kitikmeot region, but not enough to warrant the amount of money needed for the road.


#14. Posted by Jeff on June 01, 2018

These MLAs are certainly not all on the same page. Keep up the good opposition J. Main and co.

#15. Posted by old school on June 01, 2018

Let ‘s look back to MLA’s questions when JS and PQ were both running for Premier. JS told the truth then about this stupid road, and PQ didn’t. Then all KIT MLA’s voted for PQ because of it. PQ out-smarted the MLA’s and got their votes to become premier. KIT MLA’s reap what you allowed to happen. PQ out-smarted you then and again now.
You got schooled by a Veteran politician wink

#16. Posted by Good effort but ask better questions on June 01, 2018

Good on Netser for forcefully questioning a government decision that was done rather abruptly and without much in the way of explanation. But then rather than getting to the bottom of it he starts hurling accusations and grandstanding.

What was the government’s understanding of the debt cap implications? Did they really drop the project before Canada said no, or did they already know Canada was going to say no, it just wasn’t official?

Without federal support it’s totally understandable why the GN would want to walk away. I wouldn’t accept any reassurances from KIA/NRC along the lines of “don’t worry, all you have to do is spend a tiny sum on environmental assessment, and tell the feds you support the project”. BS, they would have stopped at nothing to drag the GN into responsibility.

Myself I support the project but I also think it’s totally reasonable for the GN to walk away given that the feds have said no to major funding.

#17. Posted by Cambay on June 01, 2018

#9. You sound like you work for kia. If the project means that much to you guys then pay for it. Leave the GN alone.

#18. Posted by Jobi on June 02, 2018

Better no road at all. Caribou and wildlife much more important to preserve. Road only good for mines and miners but not for Kitikmeot Inuit.

#19. Posted by Say something on June 02, 2018

Nobody seems to understand their own environment up in that region for them to be pushing the government for a handout to further exploit the land and its people. Never mind the animals the people rely on and let’s start this road to shut everyone up and feed them hamburger and hotdogs never mind country foods that were relied on by all of our ancestors before all of our time . What happens when all is exploited and the rds get abandoned? Get ready for an influx of foreigners who need lands to lay refuge on that road corridor, look at the road to the mine at the eastern side of nunavut, the mine built a private Rd but to the people of that region it was opened due to local constraints, now pollution and further exploitation of a prestine landscape is happening.

#20. Posted by Say something colonial on June 02, 2018

@ Say something

That’s one of the more unapologetically colonial things I’ve read on here for quite some time.

You realize that the main proponent here is the Kitikmeot INUIT Assoiation? Like the one that represents the Inuit of the region? The Inuit want the port and road.

And I think you are also saying that the Inuit of Baker Lake shouldn’t be able to use the Meadowbank Road for accessing hunting areas? Should they also be forced to go back to flint knapping and bows and arrows?

#21. Posted by Gerry Lafontaine on June 04, 2018

Get provincial and federal to pay for the road this is costly however can be profitable on multiple points, I know the mentality is why are you giving money to the corporation but in reality they save capital to re-invest in there mines, accept paper share values to offset the cost of tax dollars, own the road and add clauses to support and maintain the road via mines. Projected income over a long period of time will pay off for all. Bring in those investors and create wealth to all indigenous and for the companies, become a shareholder. Everyone assumes risk and everyone reaps rewards. Nothing worst then government red tape to slow project down for the good of self sufficient self preservation of culture and respect. Mandatory shares provided for all involved at the front end of the project to offset start up will cash in at the mid swing of operations.

#22. Posted by Clive on June 06, 2018

I’ve never thought much about Netser, full of hot air and doesn’t see the whole picture, with this kind of grand standing my views of him do not change.

When other mining companies can build their own roads and port, the GN does not need to waste it’s budget on this giant Chinese company, that money can go to training/ education and housing instead. We know the hand full of people that will benefit from this, the same few that are pushing hard for this in the background. Look further than your nose Netser.

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