Strahl makes last-minute announcements in Nunavut, Yukon before election call

With an election looming, the federal government on Friday signed a key devolution protocol with Nunavut and promised $1.4 million to the Yukon for oil and mineral mapping work.

With a federal election widely expected to be called this weekend, the Conservative government on Friday signed a key devolution protocol with Nunavut and promised $1.4 million to the Yukon for oil and mineral mapping work.

Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said the protocol, signed with Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik and Paul Kaludjak of the Nunavut land-claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., will help move the nine-year-old territory toward assuming more province-like powers over its lands and resources.

The federal government currently holds responsibility for Nunavut's land and resource management. The document outlines the next steps for talks between Ottawa and Nunavut toward transferring those responsibilities to the territorial government.

"The Prime Minister and our government means it when we say we want Northerners to have more decision-making power over their territory," Strahl told reporters Friday in Ottawa, where the protocol was signed.

The protocol proposes starting first with negotiations to transfer onshore Crown lands and minerals, then discussing transferring oil and gas resource management later.

It also calls for a "human resources strategy" to ensure there's a smooth transition of responsibilities between Ottawa and Nunavut.

$1.4M for geophysical mapping work

Strahl also said Friday his government will contribute $1.4 million for geophysical mapping work in the Yukon.

That work will include re-analyzing previously collected stream samples for trace minerals, and an airborne geophysical survey of the Eagle Plains area.

It will also entail geological mapping in the Francis River area, and a study of gravel resources in the Peel Plateau.

Both announcements come days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to dissolve his minority government and launch an election. The call is anticipated for Sunday.

Strahl said the Conservatives have "put Canada's North higher on Canada's political and economic agenda than it has been for decades — higher than it has been since the government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker half a century ago."

NDP to pick Yukon candidate next week

The Tories have candidates lined up in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, but say they will announce their Nunavut candidate once the election is called.

In the Yukon, Conservative Darrel Pasloski will be running against Liberal MP Larry Bagnell and John Streicker of the Green Party.

The NDP is the only party that has yet to choose a candidate in the Yukon. Three contenders for that position introduced themselves to reporters in Whitehorse on Friday morning:

  • Peter Becker, a former Olympian from Germany who moved to Canada after competing in the 1976 Games in Montreal, has been involved in various tourism-related and non-governmental organizations.
  • Robin Reid-Fraser, 19, said she wants to get more young people interested in politics.
  • Ken Bolton, a long-time political adviser, said he wants to focus on issues important to the North, such as climate change.

The NDP's Yukon membership makes its choice on Sept. 11.