Liberal MP Larry Bagnell in Whitehorse on July 25. Bagnell says the new resolution passed by the federal Conservatives to keep 100 per cent of royalties in the Yukon won’t make much of a difference right now. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Federal Conservatives promise the North can keep northern resource royalties

Liberal MP Larry Bagnell says the Conservative resolution wouldn’t make much of a difference today

The federal Conservative party passed a resolution promising to keep 100 per cent of northern resource royalties in the territories.

The resolution came out of the party’s national convention, held in Halifax on Aug. 26. It will be part of the Conservative platform going into the next election, said Jonas Smith, the Yukon representative on the Conservative Party candidates national council.

Right now, Smith said the territories keep resource revenue at differing rates. In the Northwest Territories, the territorial government keeps up to 50 per cent of natural resource revenue, though there is a cap on that.

“In the Yukon, under the agreement with Canada, the resource revenue offset arrangements provide for the first $6 million in global resource revenues having no offset against Yukon’s territorial formula financing (TFF) grant,” said Eric Clement, a spokesperson for the Yukon’s Finance Department.

“For global resource revenues in excess of $6 million, the offset is 100 per cent. That is for every dollar above the $6 million amount, a dollar is deducted from Yukon’s TFF grant.”

Smith said the idea was to simplify things across the North by keeping all of the revenue in the North. This would give the territories the same deal as the provinces, most of which retain 100 per cent of resource revenue (provinces have rights to crown land that the territories do not).

Larry Bagnell, Liberal MP, said this resolution doesn’t currently make much of a difference in the Yukon. Right now, under the current formula, with the revenue coming in from resources, the territory already keeps 100 per cent. This resolution only makes a difference if resource revenue levels go up, which could cause clawbacks to kick in.

“At the moment, it’s sort of academic,” Bagnell said. He said no one in the Yukon has ever lobbied him to change the formula, which was last updated in 2012.

Smith agreed to some degree.

“When you look at Yukon government’s annual budget, ($6 million) is three days worth of operating money.”

However, he pointed to a number of companies and upcoming projects, including Victoria Gold, Keno Hill and additional advanced exploration projects, as promising.

“It wouldn’t take much, if we can get a couple working, to crack that number.”

He said the resolution was passed almost unanimously, and received loud cheers from the roughly 3,000 people in the room.

“One key thing to stress here is this is intended for the territories and the governments to wholly retain 100 per cent of royalties and not have the transfer payments clawed back in any manner,” said Smith. “We didn’t want to give with one hand and take away with the other.”

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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