Aglukkaq: respect Nunavut board’s Areva recommendation

Mid-campaign statement suggests Ottawa won’t reject NIRB’s advice

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

An aerial view of Areva Canada's Kiggavik site. Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq said Aug. 28 that the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s recommendation against approval of Areva Canada’s Kiggavik uranium project right now, should be “respected.” (FILE PHOTO)


An aerial view of Areva Canada’s Kiggavik site. Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq said Aug. 28 that the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s recommendation against approval of Areva Canada’s Kiggavik uranium project right now, should be “respected.” (FILE PHOTO)

The Nunavut Impact Review Board’s recommendation to deny approval of Areva Canada’s Kiggavik uranium project should be “respected,” Conservative candidate Leona Aglukkaq said in a written statement Aug. 28.

“There is a lot of discussion on the proposed Kiggavik uranium project and I want to assure Nunavummiut that I will continue to advocate that the NIRB’s recommendations always be respected, including in this case,” Aglukkaq said.

Aglukkaq issued the written statement during a campaign visit to Baker Lake, about 80 km from the Kiggavik site.

This past May 28, the NIRB, after a long environmental assessment process that started in 2009, recommended to the federal government that Areva Canada’s proposed uranium mine at Kiggavik “should not proceed at this time.”

That’s because Areva — stung by rock-bottom uranium prices — could not give a start date for construction of the mine.

The NIRB said that means an accurate assessment of the project’s future environmental and social impact cannot be done right now.

In response, Areva wrote this past July to Bernard Valcourt, the federal minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, asking him to reject the NIRB’s recommendation.

Under Article 12 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the minister is allowed to reject a NIRB recommendation if a project is deemed to be in the national or regional interest.

The NLCA also allows the minister to order that the NIRB then go ahead and work out terms and conditions for a project certificate — the big permit document that effectively allows a project to go ahead.

But Aglukkaq’s statement suggests Ottawa will likely say no to Areva’s request.

She did say, however, that Areva should continue to answer questions about the project and continue working with the NIRB and the people of Nunavut.

“I would also encourage the project proponent to work directly with the NIRB and Nunavummiut to ensure that all questions and concerns raised by local communities are properly addressed,” Aglukkaq said.

In her statement, she said resource development offers “huge benefits” for northerners.’’

“This weekend, I am in Baker Lake where I will once again witness first-hand the benefits of the Agnico Eagle projects,” Aglukkaq said.

But she said that in Nunavut, resource extraction should only be done in consultation with Inuit and in a “responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.”

On that point, she bragged about the work she’s done to get adequate funding for regulatory bodies like the NIRB.

And she said that at the Arctic Council, which she chaired for a two-year period that ended this past May, she advocated for “Indigenous voices from Arctic Council states to be included in decisions and discussions on development.”

Aglukkaq has been campaigning in the Kivalliq region this past week, on a tour that began in Cape Dorset and moved on to Coral Harbour, Repulse Bay, Rankin Inlet, Arviat, Baker Lake and Whale Cove.

During federal election campaigns, the House of Commons dissolves and all sitting MPs lose their seats.

However, the executive branch of government remains intact and the prime minister and cabinet retain their titles and responsibilities until a new government is sworn in after the election.

This means Aglukkaq is no longer MP for Nunavut but still holds the position of federal environment minister.

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