Yukon Premier, Sandy Silver, left to right, Bob McLeod of Northwest Territories and Joe Savikataaq of Nunavut speak to the media during a meeting of Canada’s Premiers in Saskatoon, Sask. on July 11. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

Canadian premiers discuss shoring up Canada’s Arctic

All Canadian premiers met in Saskatoon from July 9 to 11

Canada’s position in the Arctic was a “massive” topic during meetings among premiers this week, Premier Sandy Silver told the News.

“As climate change is refocusing the world’s attention on the North, we have to make sure we are building resilient communities with infrastructure and with responsible energy development,” he said, noting that Indigenous empowerment is another component.

Premiers representing all provinces and territories gathered in Saskatoon from July 9 to 11. Other topics discussed included internal and international trade, immigration, infrastructure investments and climate change.

Leaders sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking what his government’s plans are to bolster Canada’s place on the world stage vis-a-vis the Arctic. They also asked how the federal government intends to work with Indigenous communities and invest in the area.

Climate change is another issue included in the letter, which is addressed to all federal leaders. It calls on Trudeau to ensure that measures for combating rising temperatures fit the distinct needs depending on jurisdiction. The letter asks whether resources for natural disasters and climate adaptation will be “adequate, flexible, timely and streamlined.”

“The federal government must support the capacity and ability of provinces and territories to cope with disasters; the federal government also has a responsibility to support Indigenous communities,” a communiqué says. “However, these roles are undermined by the limited scope of current federal programs meant to address climate change, adaptation measures and disaster mitigation efforts.”

The letter also asks the federal government to commit to energy independence and how it will go about that, said Scott Moe, premier of Saskatchewan, during a press conference on July 11.

“I think this would be an important step in building a stronger economy and advancing Canadian sovereignty and Canadian unity,” he said.

“As chair, I can say I was impressed with the spirit of collaboration that was brought to the table and the ability of my colleagues to put politics aside.”

Silver raised several topics that were addressed and endorsed, he said.

There was a lot of talk about the Energy East pipeline and whether it would be in the best interest of Quebec. The project was cancelled in 2017.

Northern premiers stressed that pipelines should run in more than one direction – they should also run north to south, Silver said.

Silver said he raised topics on mental health and addictions.

“Out of that there’s a Canada-wise symposium,” he said, adding that there was unanimous support for it.

Cannabis was another topic, including preparing for the introduction of edibles later this fall, along with zeroing in on the illicit sales online and drug-impaired driving, Silver said.

RCMP was another topic, specifically ensuring that officers are properly resourced.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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