FAQs – Nunavut Devolution
What is the role of the Chief Federal Negotiator and what are his next steps?
A.1. Mr. Caron will lead negotiations on behalf of the Government of Canada with the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) towards the signing of a devolution Agreement-in-Principle. This is the next step towards a future final devolution agreement which would provide for the transfer of province-like responsibilities for land and resource management to the Government of Nunavut.
How does the devolution process work?
A.2. There are typically five phases to the devolution process:
- A framework agreement or negotiation protocol is outlined which is used as a guide for the devolution process. This was completed in Nunavut in 2008 when the Nunavut Lands and Resources Devolution Negotiation Protocol was signed.
- An Agreement-in-Principle is developed and signed which will allow the parties to arrive at a joint understanding on the main issues regarding the transfer of land and resources management from the federal government to the Government of Nunavut.
- A Final Devolution Transfer Agreement is negotiated and signed by all Parties.
- Legislation and transition mechanisms are drafted and an implementation schedule would be determined by all Parties.
- The legislation and transition mechanisms are implemented through a series of legislative changes to be approved through Parliament and mirrored in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.
Who are the parties in the Nunavut devolution process?
A.3. The Parties to the Nunavut devolution process are the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and NTI. Other stakeholders such as industry and the Regional Inuit Organizations may also be included throughout the process.
What is the Lands and Resources Devolution Negotiation Protocol and how will it affect devolution in Nunavut?
A.4. The Lands and Resources Devolution Negotiation Protocol, which was signed in 2008 by the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut and NTI, was the first major step towards Nunavut devolution. The Protocol will serve as a framework that will guide all the parties once devolution negotiations begin. It was jointly developed by the Governments of Canada and Nunavut, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.
The Protocol proposes a phased approach to devolution negotiations. Negotiations would begin with onshore Crown lands and mineral management, with a commitment from all parties to discuss oil and gas resource management at a future phase of negotiations. The Protocol also proposes a human resources strategy be developed parallel to the devolution negotiations to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities and service delivery.
What proof is there that Devolution is going to be beneficial to the people of Nunavut?
A.5. Devolution is not new to the North. Devolution will give Northerners greater control over their lands and resources and improve processes in the North. Yukon has gone through its own devolution process and has been handling its own affairs for a decade. Since Yukon devolution, Yukon has had 10 straight years of positive GDP growth and has exceeded Canada's rate of national annual growth eight times out of the past 10 years. In 2012, Yukon's GDP was $2.5 billion, $1 billion more since devolution. The benefits to the territory have included increased investment, lower unemployment, an influx of skilled labourers, and increased revenues which have been used to develop infrastructure, build new schools and hospitals and improve the overall quality of life for its citizens. Nunavut stands to benefit in the same manner.
Is Nunavut ready for devolution?
A.6. Since the 1970s, the federal government has gradually transferred responsibility for health, education, social services, housing, airports and language to the region. Discussions to transfer province-like responsibilities for land and resource management to the Government of Nunavut have taken place at various times since the creation of the territory. These responsibilities are currently held within Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
What federal lands in Nunavut are excluded from devolution?
A.7. The expectation is that this will be decided as part of the devolution agreement negotiations. Some lands such as national parks and federal government offices belonging to departments that have a Canada-wide role will remain in the hands of the federal government but a final decision will be made as part of the devolution negotiations.
How has NTI been involved in the devolution process?
A.8. NTI has been part of the devolution process from the very beginning and continues to be a key partner and part of the process along with the Government of Canada and the Government of Nunavut.
The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement takes into account and allows for the devolution of powers between governments provided that devolution does not infringe on the rights of Inuit as defined in the Agreement.
NTI was a party to the Lands and Resources Devolution Negotiation Protocol signed in 2008, along with the Governments of Canada and Nunavut. The Protocol was a significant milestone on the road to devolution and will serve as a framework to guide all three parties through the devolution negotiations.
What is the relationship between devolution and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement?
A.9. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement takes into account and allows for the devolution of powers between governments provided that devolution does not infringe on the rights of Inuit as defined in the Agreement.
Specifically, Article 2.10.2 states that: "Nothing in the Agreement shall restrict the authority of the Government of Canada to devolve or transfer powers or jurisdiction to the Territorial Government, provided that the devolution or transfer shall not abrogate or derogate from any rights of Inuit in the Agreement."
Will Devolution impact Aboriginal rights, land claim negotiations or treaties?
A.10. No, the devolution process is independent of Indigenous land claim and self-government negotiations and will respect existing third-party agreements. Nothing in the Nunavut Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement would take away from Aboriginal treaty rights or the Crown's legal duties and obligations towards the Indigenous peoples of Nunavut, nor will a final agreement limit the Government of Canada's ability to negotiate land, resource and governance issues with Indigenous groups.
Will the net fiscal benefit from devolution in Nunavut be the same or different than in other territories?
A.11. In Nunavut, as in other territories, the net fiscal benefit would be negotiated by the Department of Finance, once formal devolution negotiations take place.
What role will the Government of Canada have in Nunavut post-devolution?
A.12. After devolution, the biggest change people will see in the Government of Canada's presence in Nunavut will be with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. The department's role in Nunavut will fundamentally change but it will continue to have a key role in:
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