Conservatives, NDP promise northerners housing, broadband internet
Parties diverge with NDP focus on climate change, Conservative focus on mineral exploration and mining
The Conservatives and New Democratic Party are making big promises when it comes to housing and high-speed internet ahead of next month’s federal election.
The two parties have released their platforms for the Sept. 20 election, with some similarities that include reforming Nutrition North, although neither expands on what changes they would make.
The plans diverge in expected ways, with Conservatives highlighting an investment in a half-billion-dollar project that would open Nunavut’s mineral resources to exploration, while the NDP wants to get Canada off diesel for power generation.
Meanwhile, Nunavummiut wait to hear what the Liberal and Green parties are promising .
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole unveiled a platform Monday that boasts money to build one million homes with the territories getting “their fair share” of that project, although the plan doesn’t get into regional numbers.
Instead of giving specifics, the Conservatives say they are “committed to putting a stop to federal paternalism and instead partnering with Indigenous communities and empowering Indigenous Peoples with the autonomy to meet their own housing needs.”
In terms of broadband connectivity, the party has laid out a plan to connect all Canadians to high-speed internet by 2025.
The Conservative plan diverges from the NDP’s with a focus on the Grays Bay Port and Road Project. It would connect southern Canada to a mineral-rich corridor that straddles the N.W.T. and Nunavut, and includes a 227-kilometre, all-season road and deepwater port at Grays Bay, located about 150 kilometres east of Kugluktuk.
The project is estimated to cost just under $500 million, according to a 2018 document released by the Nunavut government and Kitikmeot Inuit Association.
The Conservatives are also promising to fund the Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link, which would bring broadband internet and hydroelectricity to the region’s communities through a connection to Manitoba. The project is estimated to cost $1.6 billion, according to the project’s website.
This isn’t the only area the Conservatives are planning to allocate billions of dollars. The party also promises to spend $1 billion over five years on mental-health and drug-treatment programs tailored to Indigenous needs through land-based programs in Indigenous languages.
Other Nunavut-related points include letting territories set their borrowing limits with the federal government, money for mine training, working with the North to build an eco-tourism economy and developing community-based fisheries.
The NDP’s promises
The New Democratic Party promises 500,000 affordable housing units across the country over 10 years, with half of them complete within five. There aren’t any details about how many of these housing units would be allocated to the North.
Party Leader Jagmeet Singh unveiled the NDP platform last week, ahead of the election call.
For internet connectivity, the NDP would declare high-speed internet an essential service and ensure every Canadian has access to affordable, reliable high-speed broadband within four years.
The NDP plan diverges from the Conservatives with a promise to fund community justice programs that focus on healing and restorative justice.
“New Democrats also believe that Inuit should have control over policing in their own communities, and we will allow the Inuit to independently oversee policing in Nunavut,” the plan states.
It says the party would also work with Inuit to develop a long-term strategy to recruit and retain Inuit and Inuktitut speakers to work in community safety roles.
The NDP also plans to prioritize the fight against climate change with a target to power Canada with net-zero electricity by 2030.
To accomplish this, the party says it would invest in community-owned clean-energy projects to move off diesel.
Other Nunavut-related priorities in the NDP plan include getting Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun listed on federal voting ballots — as the territory’s former MP, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, advocated for — and creating a Northern Infrastructure Fund to “fast-track” projects. The plan isn’t specific about what projects would qualify.