June 22, 2019 - 12:25 PM EDT
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Legislation advancing responsible co-management of natural resources in North receives Royal Assent

Canada NewsWire

Bill C-88 cancels merger of land and water boards in the Northwest Territories, moves towards responsible co-management of Arctic offshore oil and gas resources and certainty for industry

OTTAWA, June 22, 2019 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is taking action to respect the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples, protect Canada's rich natural environment, and support a resilient and sustainable Canadian natural resource sector.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced the passage into law of Bill C-88, An Act to Amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, on June 21, 2019.

Bill C-88 amends two main pieces of legislation: the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. The amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act address concerns raised by Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories over the land and water board amalgamation provisions of the 2014 Northwest Territories Devolution Act and the related injunction from the the Northwest Territories Supreme Court in March 2015. The bill confirms the continuation of the Sahtu, Gwich'in and Wek'èezhìi boards with the jurisdiction to regulate the use of land and water and deposit of waste in their regions.

Bill C-88 also amends the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the Governor in Council to prohibit oil and gas activities, when in the national interest, and to freeze the terms of existing licenses to prevent them from expiring while the moratorium on the issuance of new Arctic offshore oil and gas licences is in place. These changes are necessary to allow the Government to establish a path forward for the strategic management of Arctic offshore oil and gas resources in collaboration with partners.

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"Our consultations with territorial and Indigenous governments, as well as with oil and gas companies, have helped guide our path forward. Bill C-88 acknowledges the rights of Indigenous peoples while increasing certainty to industry. It will foster a more efficient and predictable management system of natural resources, strengthened by the meaningful participation of Indigenous people, while paving the way for economic prosperity and a healthier environment in the North for generations to come."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Quick Facts

  • Bill C-88 came into force on June 21, 2019.
  • The land and water board amalgamation provisions of the 2014 Northwest Territories Devolution Act had been suspended by an injunction of the Northwest Territories Supreme Court in March 2015, at the request of Northwest Territories Indigenous governments.

Related products

Backgrounder - Amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act

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Backgrounder

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Bill C-88 — Amendments to the
Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA)

In 2014, as part of a wider initiative to modernize and streamline northern regulatory regimes, changes were made to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA).

At the time, a number of Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories raised concerns about the planned restructuring of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The Tłįchǫ Government and Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to suspend the related provisions, which was granted in February 2015. A consultation process was officially launched on September 23, 2016 with all relevant parties, including Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories, the territorial government, and other stakeholders to discuss a way forward regarding the MVRMA.

Following consultations with territorial Indigenous governments and organizations and the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of Canada introduced a bill in the House of Commons in November 2018 to amend the MVRMA to address concerns with the 2014 amendments. Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, was passed by Parliament June 19, 2019.

The Act repeals provisions of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act that would have restructured the four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley, instead retaining the current board structure consisting of:

  • Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board;
  • Gwich'in Land and Water Board;
  • Sahtu Land and Water Board; and
  • Wek'èezhìi (Tłįchǫ) Land and Water Board.

The Sahtu, Gwich'in and Wek'èezhìi boards will remain as panels of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. Jurisdiction for regulation of land and water in unsettled land claim areas of the Mackenzie Valley and for transboundary projects, including the issuance of land use permits and water licences, will also remain with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

The Act also re-introduces provisions unrelated to restructuring that were included in the Northwest Territories Devolution Act but did not come into force following the court injunction. These include provisions related to cost recovery, administrative monetary penalties, and enforcement regimes for environmental impact assessment, consultation regulation-making authorities, and regional studies.

The Government of Canada is committed to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples, provincial and territorial governments, and Canadians to ensure that legislation is clear, fair and appropriate to Northerners and all Canadians.

Backgrounder - Amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act

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Backgrounder

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Bill C-88 — Amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (CPRA)

In December 2016, as part of the Joint Arctic Leaders' Statement, the Prime Minister announced an indefinite moratorium on new oil and gas rights in the Arctic offshore, to be reviewed every five years with a science assessment. The Government of Canada subsequently launched a one-year consultation process with existing oil and gas rights holders and with territorial and Northern Indigenous governments on their interests in the Arctic offshore.

The Canada Petroleum Resources Act regulates the disposition of oil and gas rights on federal Crown lands in the North and in Canada's offshore areas not under federal-provincial co-management administration. Amendments to the CPRA in Bill C-88 give force to the December 2016 Joint Arctic Leaders' Statement and were informed by feedback from rights holders and territorial and Northern Indigenous governments during consultations.

The CPRA now authorizes the Governor in Council to issue an order, when in the national interest, prohibiting existing Exploration Licence and Significant Discovery Licence holders from carrying out any oil and gas activities. Such an order would freeze the terms of the existing licences in the Arctic offshore and prevent these licenses from expiring while the prohibition order remains in place. The Act also supplements existing authorities under section 12(1) of the CPRA, authorizing the Governor in Council to issue an order to prohibit oil and gas activities under certain circumstances.

Associated Links

Legislative summary of Bill C-88
http://www.nutritionnorthcanada.gc.ca/eng/1415538638170/1415538670874
Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act
Canada Petroleum Resources Act
Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board
Northwest Territories Devolution Act

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SOURCE Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC)

View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/June2019/22/c7134.html

media may contact: Matthew Dillon-Leitch, Director of Communications, Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, 819-997-0002; Media Relations, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-934-2302, [email protected] CNW Group 2019


Source: Canada Newswire (June 22, 2019 - 12:25 PM EDT)

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