Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper Delivers Remarks in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories (August 22, 2012)

Norman Wells, Northwest Territories – August 22, 2012

Bonjour, tout le monde. Greetings, everyone. Thank you very much, everyone, for that warm Northern welcome. Thank you, Peter, for that introduction. That is the second time, as I say; it’s just confirming rumours about me.

That’s all I can say. I guess, Peter, all I can say is as Environment Minister, any day there’s a park announcement is a good day. I think that’s right, and congratulations for the work you’ve done on this.

Greetings also to my other colleagues, John Duncan, hardworking Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, who I know has been involved in this as well, Leona Aglukkaq is here, Minister of Health and Minister for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Member of Parliament Ryan Leef.

Many others who have helped to make this park a reality are also here today: of course, Premier McLeod, Minister Milton Berger from the territorial government, Mayor Johnson, elder Mundo, Grand Chief Andrew, President Campbell, President MacAuley, and of course, Ethyl Blondin-Andrew and Rick Hardy who accompanied me yesterday on a little bit of a tour.

Mes amis, Laureen et moi sommes très heureux d’être dans le Nord pour ma septième tournée estivale.

C’est un moment de l’année auquel j’ai toujours hâte.

Friends, Laureen and I are thrilled to be in the North for what is now my seventh summer tour.

It’s always a part of the year that I look forward to.

But I’m especially pleased to be able to visit Norman Wells, and I should tell you, to say to finally visit Norman Wells, and the reason I say “finally” is because some 30 years ago my employer came into my office and asked me to pack my bags and be prepared to spend the balance of my summer here working in Norman Wells.

I thought it would be a great adventure, and besides, they were going to pay me an awful lot of money for a very young guy, so I was looking forward to it.

Anyway, plans changed and I ended up being assigned to Calgary, but I’m glad to finally make it here, three decades later.

In any case, we’ve accomplished much since my first official visit to the North in 2006.

We have, as you know, continually advanced our Northern strategy and all four of its pillars, economic and social development, improvement of Northern governance, assertion of Arctic sovereignty, and protection of our environmental heritage, and of course, it is this last one that I want to speak to you about today.

Dès les premiers jours de notre mandat, nous avons reconnu que la possibilité grandissante du développement industriel dans le Nord veut aussi dire qu’il faut faire une plus grande priorité à la protection de l’environnement nordique.

From the first days of our mandate, we’ve recognized that the increased likelihood of Northern industrial development has to mean a greater priority for Northern environmental protection.

That’s why, for example, we pass regulations under the Canada Shipping Act to require ships entering the Northwest Passage to register with the Canadian Coast Guard, and to meet Canadian environmental standards.

We’ve also invested in and expanded our system of national parks and protected areas, as Peter mentioned.

For example, we’ve built a new visitor’s centre in Kluane National Park, we created the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area, the first such region in the Canadian Arctic.

Et bien sûr, en 2007 au sud d’ici dans la région de Dehcho, j’ai annoncé l’agrandissement de la réserve du parc national Nahanni.

And of course in 2007, just south of here in the Dehcho region, we announced the expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve.

I remember the day well.

After the announcement in Fort Simpson, we flew into the park, and we landed near Virginia Falls.

I have to tell you, I’ve been to virtually every part of Canada now.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see some remarkable things as well on other continents.

But I must tell you that Nahanni has some of the most spectacular geography that you will find anywhere.

L’UNESCO ne commettait pas d’erreurs lorsqu’elle a nommé la Nahanni site d’héritage mondial.

UNESCO did not make a mistake when it declared the Nahanni a world heritage site.

Today at Norman Wells, I’m reminded of that occasion, for we are establishing another new park reserve in Canada’s North.

Yesterday afternoon, Laureen and I flew to Moose Ponds to have a look at it.

The area is dominated by Mount Wilson, Nááts’ihch’oh, and to say the least, it is truly breathtaking.

As you know, I think everyone here knows, Laureen loves to hike, so it probably wasn’t fair to take her into such beautiful wilderness and then make her get back on the plane, but it was an extraordinary visit.

Aujourd’hui j’ai le grand plaisir d’annoncer officiellement que notre gouvernement établit le 44e parc national du Canada, la réserve du parc national de Nááts’ihch’oh.

So today I’m very pleased to announce that our government is establishing Canada’s 44th national park, the Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve.

And I know some people here worked very long on this.

This park will encompass nearly 5000 square kilometres.

It will border the Nahanni National Park Reserve and extend to the Yukon border.

Quand on l’additionne à la réserve de Nahanni, c’est près de 35 000 kilomètres carrés de territoire qui sera protégé.

When combined with the Nahanni reserve, almost 35,000 square kilometres of land will be protected.

With this announcement, we’re continuing to move forward on our commitment to expand the national park system in the North.

And we are protecting our environmental heritage for generations to come.

For among the species to be found within the boundaries of this new park are woodland caribou, grizzly bears, sheep, mountain goats, and trumpeter swans, among many others.

L’annonce aujourd’hui va assurer que presque toute la longueur de la rivière Nahanni sud, ses tributaires et la majorité de son bassin versant seront maintenant protégés en faisait partie de notre système de parcs nationaux.

Today’s announcement will ensure that almost the entire length of the South Nahanni River, its tributaries, and most of its watershed will now be protected within the national parks system.

Mes amis, l’annonce d’aujourd’hui ne se limite pas aux avantages environnementaux.

Il y a aussi des avantages socioéconomiques pour la région.

Friends, there are more than environmental benefits to today’s announcement.

There are social and economic benefits for the area as well.

The park will bring infrastructure and employment, and it will bring new housing, skills development and training, specifically if a member of the Tulita, the Fort Norman Métis or the Norman Wells land corporation wants to undertake post-secondary education directly related to the park, there will be a scholarship fund to help them do it.

And because our Government is also committed to northern economic growth, opportunities for resource development were carefully considered when setting the park’s boundaries, responsible resource development that will have direct and indirect economic benefits for this region.

Now, this, of course, is nothing new.

Norman Wells a une longue histoire qui nous démontre que la conservation et le développement vont de pair.

Norman Wells has a long history of conservation and development working side by side.

This is actually the first community in the Northwest Territories to be founded specifically for resource development.

 It is also the home to the Canol Heritage Trail.

During the Second World War, this route was a service road for a pipeline bringing oil from Norman Wells to Alaska.

Today it allows hikers to explore both the geography and history of this area.

And friends, I also want to highlight that we have created a cooperative management committee which engaged all levels of government.

In other words, Northerners, those directly impacted by the creation of this park, had and will continue to have a say in its management.

Let me just close by saying this.

Notre Nord, ses paysages, ses gens, et leur mode de vie sont imprimés dans l’imaginaire des Canadiens.

La terre nordique de nos aïeux est un élément central de notre identité.

Our North, its landscape, its people, and their way of life are iconic in the minds of Canadians, central to our identity as the true North, strong and free.

Even Canadians who have never seen this vast and beautiful wilderness, even Canadians who have never seen this vast and beautiful wilderness know in their hearts that it defines us.

I count myself profoundly fortunate to have seen as much of it as I have.

Et comme Premier ministre, je suis fier d’affirmer qu’avec nos investissements dans nos parcs nationaux nordiques, nous aidons à préserver un héritage qui n’a pas de prix.

As Prime Minister, I’m proud that through our Northern investments, through our investments particularly in Northern national parks, we are helping to preserve this priceless inheritance.

I want to thank once again everybody who has worked so hard to make this day possible.

Thank you.

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