Baffinland expansion needs to address Inuit concerns, says NDP candidate

Liberal and Conservative candidates in Nunavut mum on the issue

NDP candidate Lori Idlout says Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s proposed expansion of its Mary River mine shouldn’t be accepted as it stands. Liberal candidate Pat Angnakak did not return Nunatsiaq News’ request for comment and Conservative candidate Laura MacKenzie declined to comment on the proposal. (File photo courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s mine expansion should not go through as is, says the New Democratic Party’s candidate for Nunavut, while other candidates in the Sept. 20 federal election are staying quiet about the contentious proposal.

The Ontario-based mining company wants to build a 110-kilometre railway from its Mary River mine to Milne Inlet, double its iron ore shipments through the Tallurutiup Imanga marine conservation area and add another dock at its port.

Candidates running in the Sept. 20 federal election to represent Nunavut are (from left to right): Liberal Pat Angnakak, the NDP’s Lori Idlout and Conservative Laura MacKenzie. (Photos courtesy of party websites)

The proposal is currently in front of the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which will be hosting a public hearing in Iqaluit in November. The board will be making a recommendation to the federal minister of northern affairs, who has the final say.

Liberal candidate Pat Angnakak did not respond to Nunatsiaq’s request for comment on the subject.

Conservative candidate Laura MacKenzie said “as someone campaigning in public office, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on an ongoing quasi-judicial process.”

NDP candidate Lori Idlout is the lawyer for a group of protesters who blockaded the Mary River mine airstrip and tote road in February, called the Nuluujaat Land Guardians. She also served as the Ikajutit Hunters and Trappers Organization’s technical advisor during the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s public hearing into the company’s proposal.

She said as it stands, the expansion should not be approved.

Her words of advice to the next northern affairs minister would be to make sure that all of the people who would be affected by the proposal were properly consulted and that Inuit concerns are addressed.

Idlout said even without the expansion, there have been impacts on the land and Baffinland needs to work with Inuit more to address these existing issues, such as cleaning up dust produced by the mine’s operations.

“[Baffinland needs] to listen to the Inuit communities,” she said.

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(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by Laura MacKenzie on

    So disappointing. This article makes it sound like I cut the interview off after not wanting to give my personal opinion.

    The fact is I am not from any of the affected communities. I respect the NIRB process and believe that it’s irresponsible and disrespectful to insert myself into that ongoing process. But I did talk about meeting with the Mayor, elders and MHTO in Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet) and hearing their concerns. I promised to keep visiting them, listening and ensuring their issues are heard and addressed. Sadly, none of that was quoted in the article.

    Hope Nunavummiut ask me questions directly when you see me/when I’m on radio because then I can give my full answer- unedited!

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    • Posted by Hyperborean on

      Regardless of your affiliation, it should not be not hard for you to notice that this publication has given more coverage and attention to what the NDP is up to this election, while largely ignoring the conservative candidate.

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    • Posted by maybe someone on

      Why would you comment like this on an ongoing quasi-judicial process?

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    • Posted by John K on

      Are you seriously responding to a news article in the comment section?

      Amateur hour.

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  2. Posted by Lori Lori Lori on

    So what Lori is saying is that we cannot just let the Board, a land claim organization, decide what to do.

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    • Posted by Inuujunga on

      No she is not saying that. If I need to make it clear for you she is saying Inuit who are ultimately impacted with this 100’s year life mine, Inuit concerns needs to be addressed, if not it should not be approved. That is the board mandate (nirb) and she did not cross the line here. Tukisi understand?

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      • Posted by anon on

        So you (and the NDP candidate) believe that the assessment process that included representatives from HTOs, hamlets, the QIA, NTI, the NU wildlife management board, and the government of Nunavut somehow didn’t take Inuit perspectives into account?

        (Not to mention the ‘certainty’ agreement that the QIA signed with Baffinland barely a year ago.)

    • Posted by Twist muskox wool not word on

      Oh how easily things can be turned into what is not. Good job making it what is not. Just read the article and go on with your day. No buts, if’s, and I don’t know what the next one is, you get the idea.

      Its not good to live life twisting words.

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    • Posted by Inuk on

      I think what Lori actually said is “make sure that all of the people who would be affected by the proposal were properly consulted and that Inuit concerns are addressed.”

      It’s in the article.

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      • Posted by NBaffin Beneficiary on

        We have been consulted and we want the mine to proceed because we don’t want to go back 1990’s. We should be moving forward and not backwards.

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          • Posted by anon on

            Maybe from the job losses that would take place if the mine shuts down? It’s not like there’s any other large-scale employer in Baffin other than the GN.

  3. Posted by Undermining NIRB for fun and advancement on

    Maybe Lori and Nunavut’s NDP need to recall how much effort went into negotiating the land claim and its institutions and allow the Nunavut Impact Review Board and its members to do their job … unless, of course, the NDP is now the anti-mining party.

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  4. Posted by Sitting Ducks on

    Now that investments are bring pulled, looks like they moved to Pond. Did the chefs get sent home or something? Lesson mearned wanting something for peanuts. Hope the coop hotel is comfortable. Nice having your own rooms while people sleeping in poarches. Had my family in a shack for 1.5 years cause no where to rent. And they wanted it all.

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  5. Posted by Sam on

    What’s new with NN, if you don’t pander to them that’s what the new reporters say same old same old

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  6. Posted by Conflict of Interest on

    So let me get this straight…a lawyer who made representations in court and in an ongoing quasi-judicial process on behalf of her clients has used her campaign for federal office to advance the narrative and representations said lawyer made in these processes on behalf of her clients when, the decision for Baffinland is up the federal Minister… Is that what I just read? Oof. I wonder if the NDP are regretting that coin toss…

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    • Posted by Valentin Teresch on

      Thank you for pointing out that Lori’s position has been clear, consistent and pro-Inuit as a professional, a lawyer, an advocate and now as a candidate for Parliament. That’s called “integrity”, friend. She was asked by NN what her views on the issue were, and she responded directly and honestly, unlike her opponents.
      Just FYI, there is NO ethical or legal constraint to a candidate commenting on a “quasi-judicial process”. NONE. However, it’s phrase politicians are fond of hiding behind when they don’t want to make their position clear.

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  7. Posted by George on

    Not even in office and Lori is already speaking out of place. She was previously corrected by an NU judge about proper ways to navigate the judicial system. Now as a someone running for public office she is making statements about something under review just to get votes. Just not responsible. The NIRB process is not as as strict or in depth as our justice system but it’s independence should be respected. Especially for someone who may end up as our MP. It is not right to make attempts to directly or indirectly influence it through these high profile statements.

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    • Posted by Valentin Teresch on

      You seem to have missed the fact that Lori was responding to a question from Nunatsiaq News, a question both her opponents refused to answer. She does not, and will not have, the power to approve or disapprove the proposal; as a political candidate and an Inuk, she has EVERY right to express her opinion on what she believes the outcome of the proceedings should be.

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      • Posted by If on

        “She does not, and will not have, the power to approve or disapprove the proposal;”
        .
        Probably true.
        .
        But, her party might form the next government.
        .
        If it does, she might be appointed as the Responsible Minister.
        .
        In that case, she would have the power to approve or disapprove the proposal!!!

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        • Posted by Valentin Teresch on

          Uhh…yeah, if against all odds and polls the NDP forms the next government, and if Lori is elected MP for Nunavut, and if as a rookie MP she is appointed Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, and if the decision of the regulatory bodies is not clear cut and a final Ministerial decision is required, then I guess that could happen. So if you think all that is likely, now you know what her commitment is.

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      • Posted by Bemused on

        Just because a reporter asks a question does not mean someone is required to answer it. For example, if Idlout were asked about communications between her and her clients, it is entirely proper and indeed required by her to keep those confidential and she could tell the reporter that she can’t respond to that question.

        In this case, the other two candidates did the right thing, including MacKenzie’s elaboration above. Idlout’s statement was unprofessional.

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        • Posted by Valentin Teresch on

          :Just because a reporter asks a question does not mean someone is required to answer it. For example, if Idlout were asked about communications between her and her clients, it is entirely proper and indeed required by her to keep those confidential and she could tell the reporter that she can’t respond to that question.”

          Correct, but a completely irrelevant example. There is no question of attorney client privilege under discussion: and as I noted above, while politicians love to hide behind the excuse of “quasi judicial proceeding, can’t comment” when they don’t want to answer a question, there is in fact NO ethical or legal barrier to a candidate commenting. None whatsoever.

          Lori was asked a direct question, and she responded directly and honestly. The other two candidates ducked the question citing an imaginary principle.

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  8. Posted by Philip Uvilluk on

    Will all Federal M.P.s running to represent Nunavut please travel around and look at all that is affecting Nunavutmiut. Nanisivik Mine , Polaris Mine, others in Central Nunavut, D.E.W. all have ripple affect of Inuit who had learned professions, trades. Look at number of Inuit who have a chance to learn trades, other professions in a mine setting, those can be used later on in their home communities later on, providing local employment, instead of having to rely on outside expertise.

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  9. Posted by Northern Baffin on

    What about the Inuit concerns over EMPLOYEMENT!, not all inuit in pond inlet and other affected communities are on side with the land guardians and the hto’s. Those are only the voices that are listened to. its too bad the press and publicity on the negative aspects of this project are always the front and center of news stories. what about JOBS! there inuit that want to work, that want long term income opportunities, that will take care of households for many many years!! Publicity sells papers, its not the whole story when you only tell one side. alot of families will be affected if this closes. dare i say more families that would be affected than the wildlife moving to other areas?

    taima

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