Trudeau government neglecting the North

This year marks Canada’s 150th anniversary, and a special anniversary for the Yukon as well. Yukon’s economy and infrastructure have experienced three major transitions since Confederation: the end of the fur trade, the lure of the Klondike Gold Rush, and the construction of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War.

This year marks Canada’s 150th anniversary, and a special anniversary for the Yukon as well. Yukon’s economy and infrastructure have experienced three major transitions since Confederation: the end of the fur trade, the lure of the Klondike Gold Rush, and the construction of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War.

After decades of trial and error, successful partnerships with Indigenous communities have been forged across all three territories, the North has been strengthened by devolution, and economic development has taken hold. Natural resources are abundant in the territories and with the right vision and plan, Canada’s North will once again become a major economic engine.

But under the Trudeau government, Canada’s economic future hangs in the balance. The Liberals are forecasting a decade of job churn and amassing more debt, and telling young Canadians: get used to it. But I have a vision for a prosperous Canada, and a plan that will change the course of our economy. The North is ready to play an important role in that.

This fall will mark the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Alaska Highway. At the same time, the extension of the Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk is scheduled to open.

While the need for military security during Second World War inspired the Alaska Highway, the past 75 years have proven that if you build it, they will come. It is that promise, one of economic development, that inspired an all-season road to Tuk. This road is a promise of a brighter future for the region. Development will now be possible where it had previously been limited. A better connection with Northern communities will now be possible where they had previously felt isolated. But we must not stop there. Infrastructure is critical for the territories to spur their economies and support their communities by attracting more investment.

Potential major projects in the Yukon such as Coffee gold, Eagle gold and Kudz Ze Kayah will result in substantial employment opportunities and benefits for Yukoners. Government can facilitate major projects like these through investments in strategic infrastructure that make them more feasible. The benefits go beyond direct employment and support everything from our communities to investments in healthcare.

In the coming years, the North will need more skilled labour than ever before, but it will also need professionals to support the developments in the region. That’s why an O’Toole government will support the territories and their colleges as they educate, train and develop the next generation of Northerners. With the right mix of skills, education and ambition, the opportunities for Canada’s young women, men and Aboriginal peoples will be limitless in the North.

The North has an infrastructure deficit, and I will correct that. These investments will support projects such as expansions to electrical infrastructure, the resource roads proposal of the Yukon government, and more reliable internet and cell service across the North.

This undertaking will not be easy. The geography and climate of Canada’s North require significant innovation and adaptation to complete these necessary infrastructure projects. The last Conservative government made significant investments in Canada’s North and ensured the territories had a strong voice in cabinet and at the national table.

In contrast, the Trudeau government has neglected the North. There is no cabinet representation from either of the three territories. Despite his childhood visit to the Arctic with his father, Trudeau passed on his first opportunity to attend Operation Nanook military exercise. And, the Liberals unilaterally put a moratorium on offshore development without so much as a courtesy discussion with Territorial or Indigenous leaders.

I will ensure that the Territorial Formula Financing transfers are predictable and not unexpectedly reduced due to unilateral federal decisions as they were under Trudeau in 2016. Further, I will bring Yukon to the table when it comes to trade negotiations with the United States given the importance of its shared border with Alaska.

An O’Toole government will prioritize Arctic security by completing the Nansivik Naval Facility on Baffin Island. I will reinvest in the Canadian Rangers, re-establish a Yukon-based Reserve Force, better utilize the Resolute Bay CAF Arctic Training Centre, and launch an RCAF northern surveillance drone pilot project across the territories.

I have a vision for a stronger North that doesn’t just stand on its own two feet, but drives the Canadian economy. Our North defines our nation and will be critical to our future, but realizing this potential requires vision and a relationship with Northerners built on respect. Our true North can only be strong and free when it is respected and encouraged to chart its own future.

Erin Michael O’Toole is the MP for Durham and served as Minister of Veterans Affairs. He is a retired Royal Canadian Air Force officer, lawyer and candidate for Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read