rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

NWT's Harper/McLeod Devolution Pact Going Ahead Without Public Involvement

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!


EXCERPT: Bob Bromley Spring 2013 Newsletter—Tracking Weledeh News (PDF)

Devolution Going Ahead Without Public Involvement

"... With the initialling of the Canada-NWT Draft Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement, we now need to consider the kind of resource management future we’ll build with these new powers.
Premier Bob McLeod and Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed the draft agreement at a public ceremony in the Legislative Assembly March 11.  The agreement will provide for the transfer of funds to the GNWT to operate currently federal land, water, non-renewable resource and some environmental management programs. The GNWT will get a share of non-renewable resource royalties up to a capped amount, and it will share 25 per cent of these royalties with Aboriginal governments. 

In taking on the new powers, the GNWT must pass “mirror” legislation, which duplicates the federal resource management law now in place.  The federal government has kept the power to decide what development projects will be referred to environmental review, and what the conditions will be for a development project to go ahead.   The GNWT will have to pick up the costs if conditions are not followed by a project operator who goes broke, such as occurred with Giant Mine.  It’s unclear if, when and how we will get authority to write our own laws or make our own environmental management decisions. 

The Akaitcho Territorial Government and Deh Cho First Nations have not signed the devolution agreement, although the Premier is continuing discussions with them. All other NWT Aboriginal governments are taking part in the negotiations.

During the last Assembly session, I moved motions critical of federal environmental actions, and of the lack of public consultation on the proposed agreement. While I thank Weledeh constituents and many other NWT residents for their widespread support, the Assembly was cool to these proposals.  The Cabinet and some Regular MLAs voted against my motion criticizing the federal government for not informing or consulting with the GNWT on major changes to the resource and environmental laws we must inherit.  Only Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro and myself voted in favour of my motion calling for a plebiscite on whether to accept the devolution deal. A public opinion poll said 73% of NWT residents want a chance for a vote.

The Premier describes the deal as a “take it or leave it” offer from the federal government. Saying NWT citizens will have an “unprecedented” 40- to 60-day opportunity for consultation on the deal, he is staging information sessions that offer Aboriginal residents little, and non-Aborginal residents no opportunity to influence the contents of the final agreement.  The final decision on the devolution agreement will be made soon, as the Premier has promised a vote on the agreement in the May-June Assembly session.  There is no word on what the content of the question for voting would be. The GNWT aims to take on the new powers effective April 1, 2014.

Throughout the negotiations leading to this deal, the GNWT has ALL BUT ignored the opportunity to involve citizens in developing a vision for the future of resource management.  Basically, we have negotiated the authority to permit and approve development, without having control of the environmental review processes needed to ensure development is appropriate, sustainable and benefits the people of the NWT. Nevertheless, we will have to put up with the consequences and costs of project developments when conditions approved by the Government of Canada are not met by developers. 

This makes it critical to have public participation in considering how we put our new powers into action.  I’ll continue to call for citizen involvement in deciding how we implement devolution.  Citizens need participation in developing a resource and environmental management regime better than the old federal model, with an improved revenue return to citizens through our one-time royalties...."


Bob Bromley, MLA WELEDEH
(867) 669 2272
bob_bromley (at) gov.nt.ca
Fax: 867 873 0276 1-800 661 0879
PO Box 1320
Yellowknife, NT Canada
X1A 2L9

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.