North

Bill to scrap plan for N.W.T. 'superboard' one step closer to becoming law

A bill scrapping the previous federal government’s move to replace regional land and water boards in the Northwest Territories with a so-called superboard is one step closer to becoming law.

Committee of MPs voted to approve Bill C-88 Thursday

Liberal MP for Northwest Territories Michael McLeod says he hopes Bill C-88 can go to third reading and to the Senate before the end of June. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

A bill scrapping the previous federal government's move to replace regional land and water boards in the Northwest Territories with a so-called superboard is one step closer to becoming law.

The federal Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs voted to approve Bill C-88, without any changes, during a clause by clause reading Thursday morning in Ottawa.

The proposed bill would reverse changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act that were included in the 2014 transfer of federal authority over land and resources to the territorial government. The land and water boards review resource projects and issue land use permits and water licenses.

Bill C-88 will now head back to the House of Commons for third reading. Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod told CBC that he expects that to take place in the next few weeks. It will then have to get the Senate's stamp of approval, which McLeod hopes will happen before the end of June.

"The timelines are getting really tight," McLeod told CBC in an interview earlier this month, referring to the looming federal election.

"Of course, we have to recognize we're up against other pieces of legislation, so I'm really working hard with the government house leader to make sure we don't lose sight of this."

When the previous federal government passed a law to amalgamate the Gwich'in, Sahtu and Wek'èezhii land and water boards into a single 'superboard,' the Tlicho challenged the law in court, arguing in part that it violates provisions of the Tlicho Agreement.

They won an injunction to pause the amalgamation. The then-Conservative federal government filed notice it was appealing, but ran out of time before the Liberal Party took power after the 2015 election. The Liberals abandoned the appeal.