Devolution deal easier to reach in Nunavut than N.W.T.: Prentice
Reaching a devolution agreement with Nunavut should be less complicated than with the Northwest Territories, Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Jim Prentice says.
Speaking to reporters during a weekend visit to Nunavut, Prentice predicted the negotiations would be simpler for Nunavut because the territory has a singleland claims organization whereasthere are numerous aboriginal groups in the N.W.T. and some of them don't havefinal land claim agreements.
In Nunavut, the talks to transfer more province-like powers from Ottawato the territory willbe between the federal and territorial governments and the land claims organization,Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. [NTI].
"When you look at the Northwest Territories, there's no single NTI, if you will, so you can see how it becomes significantly more complicated than the situation in Nunavut," Prentice saidwhilein Iqaluit.
Sharing revenue from resources, such as diamonds and gold, is one issue that will need to be settled in Nunavut, he said.
Althoughthe federal government is committed to reaching a devolution deal with both territories,Prentice refused to speculate on how long the negotiations might take.
Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik said negotiations for his territory are already behind schedule by ayear.
"We hope we can move quickly and make real progress so we won't have to rely on Ottawa for our annual budget," he said.
The first meetings between Prentice's newly-appointednegotiator, Montreal lawyer Paul Mayer,and the territory's chief negotiator, Tony Penikett, are underway.
They need to figure out what work needs to be done and how long it may take to reach an agreement.
The two negotiators will also meet withNunavut Tunngavik officials.