Federal Action Plan
Canada’s North has recently come into the international spotlight due to its resource potential, sovereignty concerns, climate change, and its evolving political systems. A vision for the North has become one of Canada’s most important policy agendas. With this greater focus on Canada’s North, there has also been an increased and often negative attention on its regulatory regime, particularly as it pertains to its ability to support and promote resource development.
The 2005 Report of the Auditor General on Development of Non-Renewable Resources in the Northwest Territories stated that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) was not adequately fulfilling its responsibilities for managing non-renewable resource development in the Northwest Territories. The 2005 environmental audit conducted pursuant to Part 6 of the MVRMA provided recommendations for improvement of the implementation of the MVRMA but noted that, overall, the MVRMA was achieving its intended purpose. In May 2008, an AANDC-commissioned report by Mr. Neil McCrank was released. The report, The Road to Improvement –The Review of the Regulatory Systems Across the North (the McCrank Report), included recommendations that he felt could provide for improved regulatory systems. In May 2010, Minister Chuck Strahl, in response to the McCrank Report, announced the Action Plan to improve northern regulatory regimes (the Action Plan). The Action Plan is intended to “ensure that Northern regulatory regimes are more effective, predictable and provide greater certainty to industry, Northerners and all Canadians”.
The Action Plan contains three key elements:
- Legislative changes to improve Northern regulatory processes to reduce overlap and duplication;
- Enhanced environmental stewardship; and,
- A strong voice for Aboriginal peoples.
In May 2011, the Land and Water Boards of the Mackenzie Valley released a policy paper titled,Perspectives on Regulatory Improvement in the Mackenzie Valley. The paper is the Full Board’s platform for involvement in the Action Plan.