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View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Once again, thank you for coming and presenting to us.
In your presentation, you talked about the economy doing well. We talked about this issue before, but while the national indicators remain strong, there still are parts of Canada that are struggling, not growing as fast as we would like to see. In the Northwest Territories, our economy is growing at a slower pace. It's causing a lot of concern with my constituents. The diamond mines are starting to hit a point where they're going to be past their production peak pretty soon, and there's really no other industry to offset this decline.
Two pieces keep coming forward as ways to boost our economy. First is dealing with the land tenure and governance issue with our indigenous people of the Northwest Territories. If we want to move forward, we need to have the indigenous people as full partners at the decision-making table. It's been slow going. The discussions are not going as fast as we'd like.
I belong to the Dehcho First Nations. I was a young teenager when we started our negotiations, and 50 years later we're still trying to sort out the issues and come to an arrangement. It's a long time, and it's hard to understand why it would take 50 years to try to negotiate an agreement with a population of 2,000 people. For us, reconciliation with our indigenous people is tied to the growth of the economy. We have a land freeze with a good part of the Northwest Territories that will not be lifted until we sort out the land tenure and governance issues. I think we need to put a lot more attention on it. In the last government, we put a lot of attention on the national indigenous organizations. Maybe this time we need to switch that focus.
We hear from the Chamber of Mines and the Chamber of Commerce that we also need more investment in infrastructure. We need more roads, better airports, bigger airports. We've done pretty well with the last government, but the deficit is so huge that we need to continue to look at what we can do.
I want you to speak to the efforts the Government of Canada is taking to support regional economies, more specifically in the north, to foster both growth and diversification.
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