Federal mandarins hold talk-fest in Iqaluit this week

Federal bureaucrats met in Iqaluit’s parish hall this week to talk about creating what they call a sustainable development strategy for the North.



IQALUIT — The federal government says it wants its departments to work together to help create environmentally healthy, economically viable communities in the North.

This week, representatives from federal departments met in Iqaluit to prepare a federal government “sustainable development strategy for the North.”

Sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” according to federal legislation.

But in layman’s terms it means “a way of making the world a better place for all. It means a good environment, and in turn good health, jobs and all the things that go along with it, says Valerie Hume, a policy co-ordinator for sustainable development within the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

At the two-day meeting, business and special interest groups from across Nunavut were asked to comment on the how the federal government can help build stronger communities in the North and specific courses of action that should be taken.

Participants included, Nunavut Tourism, the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, Sakku Investments, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the Qikiqtani Wildlife Board.

A discussion paper released at the meeting said a northern strategy could include goals to:

build stronger communities in the North;
protect the environment;
improve the health of northern residents;
promote political development, and
foster economic development and sustainable use of natural resources
Once a draft strategy is drafted, Hume said, it will include goals for the government and ways to achieve them.

For example, she said reducing the frequency of children being born with fetal alcohol syndrome could be a goal.

“The strategy should include quantifiable goals so everyone will see where co-ordination is possible,” Hume said.

All federal departments already have sustainable development strategies. But not all are specific or relevant to the North, Hume said.

“The idea is to be more integrated, to benefit everyone. and to focus on northern issues,” Hume said.

Canada’s Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has asked for a government-wide strategy for the North.

But Hume reminded participants the federal departments will be restricted by their mandates and money when dealing with sustainable development issues.

“What we can promise to do is only what is in our mandate. We’re also restricted by money, we don’t have an open-ended coffer,” Hume said.

Glenn Williams, a representative from NTI, asked how the federal government defines its relationship with Nunavut’s new public government organizations, such as the Nunavut Water Board when dealing with sustainable development issues.

The federal departments have scheduled similar meetings in Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Ottawa to get public input on a strategy.

DIAND plans to publicly release a draft strategy, including goals and courses of action, before it returns for more consultation in the spring. -30-

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