DIAND minister disagrees with editorial


I agree with your editorial that your readers deserve to know about Bill C-33 (Nunatsiaq News, February 22, 2002). However, I think it is important that they are made aware of the facts.

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has worked for eight years to develop this bill and we will continue to share information and consult with the water board, the Nunavut government, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and other aboriginal organizations throughout this process. Numerous improvements to the bill are a direct result of the transparent process we used to develop the statute and the comments received from these organizations.

The government of Canada takes seriously its obligation to implement the Nunavut land claims agreement and Bill C-33 is part of Canada’s commitment to fulfil its obligations to the Inuit of Nunavut. The Act clarifies the mandate of the water board and Surface Rights Tribunal and creates legal certainty and adds a level of detail regarding the scope of their powers and responsibilities.

Since the act was largely derived from the existing Northwest Territories Water Act, the relationship between myself and the water board has already been established. The passage of the bill will not change the relationship between myself and the water board.

My role in licensing water will be the same in Nunavut, Yukon and the NWT, creating consistency in application across the North. As presently happens, the water boards will continue to make the majority of the decisions regarding licences and I will be involved in only the larger Type A water licences (i.e., industry-type water licences which involve high volume water usage each day) and in those licences which were the subject of public hearings.

I take seriously the issue of water resources and am committed to putting the control of Nunavut resources in the hands of Nunavut residents. This bill is an important step forward as we continue to meet our obligations to build resource management capacity in Nunavut.

Robert Nault
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

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