Inuit organizations vow to fight changes to tax law

NTI says Inuit could be on the hook if mining companies go bankrupt

Jeannie Ehaloak, Nunavut’s minsiter of community and government services, spearheaded Bill 55, which MLAs passed during the recent sitting of the legislative assembly. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Nunatsiaq News

Inuit organizations say they will take the Nunavut government to court over changes to a property-tax law recently passed in the legislature.

The amendments to Bill 55, passed on Sept. 16, change how the territory’s mines are taxed. Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. says that it worries that the changes could leave Inuit organizations, who own surface and subsurface mineral rights across a big chunk of the territory, on the hook in the event that a mining company goes bankrupt.

A joint statement from NTI and the territory’s three regional organizations described the bill’s passage as “an astonishing and inexplicable act,” and expressed their  “disappointment and disapproval in the strongest terms.”

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone said he’s “grown frustrated with the tone of accusation” from Inuit organizations regarding Bill 55, which was passed into law last week’s sitting of the legislative assembly. (Photo by David Venn)

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone told the legislature during its fall sitting —  before it was dissolved and elections began — that NTI’s concerns were misplaced.

He said Inuit organizations are “very capable” of writing lease agreements that ensure mining companies are responsible for their taxes.

“I for one have grown frustrated with the tone of accusation that we hear from certain organizations when their demands are not met immediately and completely met,” Lightstone said.

Lightstone said that he was proud of the members and the work they put into the bill.

“I’m a voting beneficiary, as are most of the members of this house,” he said. “I’m fulfilling my responsibilities in good faith on behalf of all my constituents and the territory as a whole.”

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. said the Nunavut government failed to adequately consult with Inuit organizations and ignored their concerns.

But Jeannie Ehaloak, Nunavut’s minister of community and government services, said that the government consulted Inuit organizations about the changes over a period of several years.

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Lol NTI on

    The Inuit orgs own the land. They should ensure mining companies clean up messes and pay the appropriate royalties. Why should the taxpayers be on the hook if they don’t? We all know what happens when large multinationals leave town, just look at the Giant Mine next door for recent history, or the Sydney Tarponds for historically, if you don’t know.

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  2. Posted by Shame on NTI on

    What is happening at NTI? Who are they representing? They say GN does not consult with Inuit – does NTI?

    NTI owns the rights to the land, NTI gains the royalties. The GN is already at a disadvantage by not receiving any benefits from the land and now NTI wants them to be responsible for the risks as well? Happy to see MLAs did not bow to this intimidation tactic.

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  3. Posted by Shallow skim of the surface on

    As I see it, there’s not nearly enough information in this article that is pertinent to the changed laws for a lay reader to form an opinion worth having.

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    • Posted by bill walker on

      PATA, the bill is on the Nunavut Legislature website….
      The GN always had the ability to impose tax but the old Property and Taxation Act was derived in 1999 from the GNWT and it was awkward. its a cleaned up act that is much more clear on taxes , fees and levies with regards to land in NU

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    • Posted by My thoughts exactly on

      Definitely need more specifics about what the changes are.

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  4. Posted by pissed off on

    Inuit organisation should start to think like grown-up
    You own the land, you want to collect royalties but with ownership come responsibilities and sometimes it`s not so funny !!!!

    Keep an eye on all the aspects of ownership before you make your next move.

    Thanks

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    • Posted by Open eyes on

      Its funny I always say that about the GN, with over 2 BILLION annual budget the GN is like a child that doesn’t know what to do with all these funds.
      They have this wrong as well and once they are done in court it will be embarrassing again for the GN.

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  5. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Ummmm, that is what subsurface and surface land ownership is all about NTI! That is also why the Inuit Orgs should be collecting sufficient monies, as security, to ensure that there are funds available to remediate the site should the mining company go into default. Otherwise you as the landowner are responsible for paying for the cleanup, or did NTI think that it only had to worry collecting the royalties!

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    • Posted by Arctic guy on

      I guess you don’t know, the Inuit orgs already do this, you might want to take a look at their concerns and also take a look at how the GN went about this, might open your eyes.

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  6. Posted by Peter on

    NTI will win this in court, trying to work with the GN on all levels is near impossible and this is a fine example of that.
    How many times have we seen mines in Canada that just quits and leaves? Leaving behind waste, unpaid taxes and so on, the Inuit orgs have it right, the GN like so many other times have this wrong.
    I will be waiting for the outcome once the dust has settled in court. Doesn’t look good on the GN.

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  7. Posted by The Missing Part on

    Lightstone also referenced the actual Land Claim provision, so here it is for the uninformed:
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    ARTICLE 22.2.23: …Inuit Owned Lands outside municipalities on which improvements have been made shall be subject to real property taxation…

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