Yukon is going to be able to cash in more on resource development in its own backyard thanks to an updating of revenue sharing agreements today that was overseen by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his northern tour.
Harper visited a copper and gold mine in Minto, about 240 kilometres north of Whitehorse, along with John Duncan, minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development.
Duncan signed an agreement with Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski that amends two existing resource revenue sharing agreements – the Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord and the Yukon Northern Affairs Program Devolution Transfer Agreement.
The agreements cover revenues from oil, gas, forestry, land, water and minerals. The federal government says the reformed agreements will ensure a greater portion of the revenues generated from the mining and resource economy in Yukon will stay in Yukon.
“Under this agreement, Yukoners will benefit to a much greater extent from the expected boom in mineral exploration and development during the decades to come,” Harper said in a speech at the mine.
Harper is on his annual tour of Canada’s North and he’s touting the region’s natural resource development as a “great national dream.”
‘Just scratching the surface’
The next 10 years will see more than 500 new development projects proposed for Canada, he said Tuesday. Those projects are expected to be worth more than $500 billion across the country, meaning jobs and economic growth, he added.
“Much of that growth will be here in the North,” Harper said. “Indeed, such is the magnitude of the North’s resource wealth that we are only, quite literally, just scratching the surface.”
The prime minister wouldn’t touch the issue of China’s CNOOC, which is moving to take over Calgary-based oil company Nexen. He pointed to the Investment Canada Act review, which is triggered automatically for foreign takeovers over $330 million. The government will look at whether the purchase would have a net benefit for Canada, a broad term that lacks a specific definition under the act.
Harper said he had to be careful answering questions about the bid because “as you know, there are various [foreign] investments that come before us for adjudication…. And obviously when they’re of a certain size, that triggers an automatic review,” he said.
“But obviously, there’s a tremendous economic opportunity here and the fact that we are attracting investment not just domestically but from around the globe I think speaks very highly to the great future that our country has and that this part of the country in particular has.”
The mining and energy sectors in the North already employ about 5,000 people, mostly Northern residents, according to figures provided by the federal government and thousands more could potentially be created through 24 projects that require federal regulatory approvals.
If they go ahead they could support an estimated 8,000 jobs and represent $38 billion in new investment, according to Harper’s office. Other business sectors in the North and across Canada would also benefit from these projects, Harper said Monday.
Michael Byers, a political scientist who specializes in the Arctic at the University of British Columbia, said Yukon’s existing resource revenue sharing agreement wasn’t particularly favourable and that amending it so Yukon can keep a greater share is the right thing for Harper’s government to do.
Byers said Ottawa and the governments in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have also been trying to hammer out new revenue sharing arrangements and so far they haven’t been able to reach agreement.
For the rest of this article, please go to the CBC News website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/08/21/pol-harper-north-tour-tuesday.html