O T T A W A September 22, 2015 Robert R. McLeod Premier of the

September 22, 2015
Robert R. McLeod
Premier of the Northwest Territories
Legislative Assembly
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9
Dear Premier McLeod,
Thank you for your letter and the opportunity to address issues
of importance to the people of the Northwest Territories (NWT)
and all Canadians.
I believe that it is imperative the federal government work
collaboratively with our Confederation partners in provincial,
territorial and Indigenous governments to provide economic
growth and deliver key services to Canadians.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the federal government of
Stephen Harper has refused to engage in dialogue, acting
unilaterally in crucial areas like healthcare and skills training.
An NDP government will adopt a different approach, focusing on
getting results for Canadians. As such, I have committed to
attend two First Ministers’ meetings per year, one in Ottawa and
one in a province or territory, on a rotating basis. A first meeting
will be held within the first six months following the federal
Below I outline my response on behalf of the New Democratic
Party to the issues raised in your letter.
-21. Responsible development of the NWT’s rich reserves
of natural resources would create a strong, prosperous
NWT and help supply the energy needs of consumers,
businesses and industries in southern Canada. What
actions would your government take to facilitate and
support the responsible development of currently
stranded NWT resources and ensure Northerners are
able to meaningfully participate in and enjoy the benefits
of sustainable economic development?
NDP Response: New Democrats will work with the Government
of the Northwest Territories to build strong and sustainable
northern economies through investment in small businesses, in
tourism, innovation and clean energy development. We will also
work with the Northwest Territories on your priorities for major
infrastructure development to lower transportation costs, get
products to market and connect communities.
We can stimulate construction jobs in every community by
increasing dedicated, predictable streams of funding for local
infrastructure. The NDP proposes to increase existing Gas Tax
transfers for core infrastructure by $1.5 billion over 4 years.
We see the need to support the forestry industry by investing in
the development of value-added products and promoting the use
of wood products, including developing biomass energy.
It is time for a federal government that is a real partner with
provinces and territories: we have promised two regular
meetings a year with all of the Premiers.
2. The NWT is one of the only jurisdictions in Canada
currently facing a declining population, threatening the
sustainability of many Northern communities and making
it difficult to encourage robust economic growth and the
development of a prosperous territory able to provide for
its most vulnerable citizens. What actions would your
government take to support GNWT efforts to grow the
NWT population, such as tax measures recognizing the
high cost of living or measures to encourage foreign
investment and immigration to the NWT?
NDP Response: New Democrats will respect Northerners and
help make their life more affordable by ensuring that the
Northern Residents Tax Deduction keeps pace with the needs of
Northern residents and with the inflation. Further details will
follow when we release our fully- costed platform in the coming
-3New Democrats are committed to fixing the Nutrition North food
subsidy program by immediately including in it the 50 fly-in
communities that are not currently eligible. We will initiate a
comprehensive review of the program, in full partnership with
Northerners, to develop a sustainable solution to food insecurity.
We are committed to boosting the Guaranteed Income
Supplement (GIS) by $400 million to lift every senior in Northern
Canada out of poverty and we will restore the age of Old Age
Supplement and the GIS eligibility to 65.
We also recognize the impact of the high cost of energy in all
aspects of northern living. We will actively work to reduce the
reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels in northern and
remote communities.
3. NWT residents and businesses face some of the
highest energy costs in the country, driving up the cost of
living and creating obstacles to economic growth for new
and growing businesses, as well as established
industries. Will your government be prepared to make
investments in energy sustainability in the NWT in
partnership with the GNWT, including investments in
expanded power grids connected to the national grid, and
support for more affordable and environmentally friendly
local power generation options?
NDP Response: New Democrats will encourage clean,
alternative energy development for Northern communities to help
end reliance on fossil fuels while also making energy efficiency a
priority to reduce energy costs. We will ensure that northern
communities are a high priority in any effort to support clean
energy for heating and electricity in Canada and when upgrading
and replacing federal assets. At both the micro and macro level,
there are opportunities to invest in Northern clean energy
development and the businesses that will create jobs in the
sector. We will be a partner that respects and supports the
leadership taken in the three territories on these issues.
-44. Lack of transportation infrastructure continues to limit
responsible resource development in the NWT and
contribute to the high cost of living for our residents. What
investments would your government be prepared to
make, in partnership with the GNWT, in new and
improved road, air, marine and rail transportation
infrastructure to better link our residents to each other
and the rest of Canada, promote sustainable
communities, reduce living costs and support economic
growth of our territory?
NDP Response: In consultation with Northern and Indigenous
governments and with the public and other key stakeholders, we
will invest in vital community infrastructure to foster economic
development and lower the cost of transporting goods in the
north. Economic infrastructure, such as road, bridges, airports
and ports, must be a national priority.
We will set targets for the rollout of national broadband access
comparable to other leading OECD jurisdictions. This will
improve communications in the North and will ensure that
Northerners have access to communications that does not
disadvantage them in comparison to the south.
5. After decades of negotiation, responsibility for public
land, water and resources in the NWT was transferred to
the GNWT, giving Northerners a greater say in decisions
affecting their own economy and future and promoting
increased certainty around land use and responsible
resource development. What plans would your
government have for furthering Northern selfdetermination by completing the devolution of authority
for the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act,
providing responsibility for Northern board appointments,
negotiating administration over offshore oil and gas
resources, and finalizing and implementing outstanding
land claim and self-government agreements?
NDP Response: We will work with the Government of the
Northwest Territories to further self-determination. The NDP
supports inclusive consultation and consensus-based decisionmaking which respects the autonomy of the NWT. The NDP also
remains committed to fixing our country’s broken treaty process
and dealing with unresolved land claims by bringing in a new era
of nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
-56. Since the 1940s the Mackenzie Delta region has
warmed by over 3° Celsius and the southern part of the
territory by 2° C. This is some of the fastest warming of
any region in the world and has led to thawing
permafrost, shorter winter road seasons, coastal erosion,
new forest pests, fires and drought. The exponential
impacts of climate change on the North combines with
factors like the high cost of energy and limited
infrastructure to present challenges to the sustainability of
rural and remote Northern communities. What steps
would your government take to address climate change
while at the same time avoiding increases in the already
high cost of living for Northerners or creating unintended
barriers to sustainable Northern economic development?
NDP Response: An NDP government will grow the economy
while protecting the environment and meeting our climate
commitments. By failing to take action, the Conservatives have
passed an enormous environmental debt on to our children and
grandchildren. In the last ten years, they have dismantled laws
which protect our air, land and water. We must, however,
acknowledge that throughout 12 years of majority Liberal
government, Canada’s emissions record was amongst the worst
in the industrialized world. Although the Liberal government
signed the Kyoto Protocol, they had no intention of reaching the
targets: on their watch, Canada’s emissions grew 34%.
New Democrats will reduce Canada’s reliance on fossil fuels and
support energy efficiency and conservation. We will end fossil
fuel subsidies, and implement a cap-and-trade system that puts
a price on carbon, with revenues invested in the same regions in
which they were generated.
We will restore Canada’s international reputation on the
environment. Only Tom Mulcair and the NDP have committed to
showing up at the climate meeting in Paris this November with
climate change targets and a clear plan to help Canada
transition to a cleaner economy.
7. Access to adequate, suitable and affordable housing
is of great importance to our territory. Lack of appropriate
housing not only limits the potential of the individual, but it
also threatens the economic development, labour market
participation, and sovereignty of our communities and
country. The once strong housing partnership between
NWT and Canada created a valuable social housing
stock that supported the aspirations of NWT residents,
sovereignty of northern areas and economic and
-6resource development. The NWT, already spending
several times more on housing in relation to overall
government expenditures than the national average,
faces the prospect of assuming even more of the
financial burden as social housing operating agreements
expire. How would your government to address these
serious housing challenges head-on through strong
collaboration and continued, long-term, predictable and
flexible federal funding?
NDP Response: We are committed to tackling the
housing crisis in the North by collaborating with and
consulting with the affected communities and with other
levels of government. We have announced that we will
invest $2.7 billion over 4 years to increase affordable
housing and reduce homelessness throughout Canada.
This money will be used to support the construction of
new affordable housing, to repair existing social housing,
and to provide rent supplements to families in need.
Tom Mulcair
Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada