The Conservative government is going to scrap the work done by Liberals on devolution in the Northwest Territories and start from scratch, Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday.
The comments came just a day beforethe newly appointed N.W.T. devolution negotiator,Harvie Andre, was scheduled to meetNorthwest Territories Premier Joe Handley in Calgary Thursday.
Handley has always argued that any deal to transfer more powers to the territorial and First Nation governments shouldinclude resource revenue-sharing, but the Liberals were not prepared to do that.
Prentice said that without an agreement on resource revenue-sharing, there will be no deal at all.
"Those discussions have to begin afresh with a new table to start from scratch," Prentice said. "So Mr. Andre will start from scratch and that's at the request of the parties to the table."
Although Handley could not be reached for comment, he had said earlier he is hopeful Andre could resolve the issues that Liberal negotiator David Peterson could not.
He said there has been no movement on the file since June 2005.
"That left a lot of outstanding financial issues,"Handley said. "I met with [former minister Andy Scott] in October 2005, offered him a compromise on a lot of the outstanding financial issues. Then after that, an election was called and we've been pretty much on hold since then."
Andre has proposed using the Yukon's 2003 devolution agreement as a template for the Northwest Territories, though some feel that was a bad deal.