An agreement between the federal government and the Government of the Northwest Territories over the devolution of powers and resource revenue sharing is within the territory’s reach, NWT Premier Floyd Roland said in the legislative assembly on Monday.
Roland said a draft agreement-in-principal was brought forward in September by the federal and territorial chief negotiators. The negotiators have since recommended that both governments sign the document, and that Aboriginal governments sign on to take part in any future negotiations.
A copy of the agreement-in-principle was leaked to the CBC on Friday after Roland had presented the draft agreement to the MLAs.
The draft agreement is non-binding, but sets out the process for the transfer of authority over the NWT’s land, water and resources from the federal government to the territorial government, Roland explained. It builds on a joint agreement developed by the GNWT and four of the territory’s Aboriginal governments that was presented to the federal government in 2007.
Transferring authority to the territorial government would ensure that the NWT’s abundant resources are developed in a responsible way while allowing NWT residents to benefit from the financial and economic benefits future development would bring, Roland said.
“I have said all along that without devolution, our future remains more of the same – remaining dependent on Ottawa to make the major decisions about resource development in our territory, while watching the revenues from that development continue to flow south,” he said Monday.
“We have waited a long time to take this critical step in our political development. We are at a sensitive and critical juncture in this process.”
Calling the proposed agreement a “substantial” document, Roland said all parties involved have a few weeks to decide how they would like to proceed. The process is at a sensitive and critical juncture, Roland explained.
“Our negotiators have provided until October 31st for all parties to consider the agreement and determine whether they want to proceed as signatories,” he said.
Roland said more information on the provisions of the draft agreement will be released in the coming weeks.