'The North is the next frontier in economic development.'

New Democrat MPs renew call for Iqaluit port


Federal New Democratic Pary members of parliament renewed calls for a deep water port in Iqaluit during a visit to Nunavut last week.

"The North is the next frontier in economic development," said Jean Crowder, the NDP's aboriginal affairs critic and MP for the British Columbia riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan.

But Iqaluit's economic development is held back by the cumbersome and expensive sealift process, where keeping a ship at anchor in Frobisher Bay can cost as much as $50,000 a day, Crowder said.

Those costs and construction delays could be eliminated with a proper port, she added.

Last summer, the federal government announced it would refurbish an existing dock at Nanisivik. That site, located at the eastern mouth of the Northwest Passage, is strategically valuable but is of limited use for civilian purposes.

The NDP MPs flew to Nunavut to visit the Polar Continental Shelf project in Resolute Bay, and to consult with the people of Pond Inlet.

Crowder said southern MPs "have a national responsibility" to visit and learn about life in the North.

"We're here to talk to people."

Crowder also weighed in on the dispute over the Liberal Party's so-called Green Shift plan, which would raise taxes on all fossil fuels except gasoline, while cutting income taxes and raising the northern residents tax deduction.

But that proposal was lambasted by the three northern premiers late last month, with Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik saying there's no way he can support tax hikes on fuels the GN buys directly and sells to Nunavummiut.

Crowder said she sympathizes with Okalik's position because Nunavut is limited in its energy options and can't easily adopt cleaner forms of power like solar, wind and hydroelectricity.

"There are alternatives in the south that simply don't exist up here," she said.

Not surprisingly, Crowder pitched the NDP's green plan over the Liberal carbon tax, which she said "does tend to hit working and middle class families."

The NDP proposal would place hard limits on industrial pollution and force companies to buy credits for every ton of pollution they produce over designated the limits.

The plan would produce as much as $2.5 billion per year to fund the development of greener industry.

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