The Northern Premiers’ Forum — an annual meeting where the premiers of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut discuss and strategize about issues affecting the North — was held in Ottawa this year on May 2 and 3.
Nunavut Premier Paul Quassa hosted Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod. The three met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau May 3, the first time the premiers of all three territories have met with Trudeau together.
In an interview afterwards, Silver said the premiers discussed a “wide range of topics” with Trudeau, including the importance of having northerners involved in discussions about the North.
“There’s been decisions in the past by Ottawa for the North and we want to make sure, moving forward, you know, (that) northerners are supposed to be the ones making those decisions and the prime minister took that to heart and agreed with us fully,” he said.
The premiers also met with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.
Silver said he asked McKenna for clarity on how the upcoming carbon tax would be implemented in the North and “expressed to her the urgency of getting some answers for some critical questions.”
He would not elaborate on what those “critical questions” were.
“We need to (get) clarification on one or two specific issues because if it’s a yes, the rebate infrastructure is going to change one way, and if it’s a no, the rebate structure is going to change in another way, and so that’s important,” Silver said.
“(McKenna) gets it. She understands the importance of this, (that) we need to hear from her department sooner or later. It’s only one more legislative sitting before carbon pricing is going to be in effect, and that urgency was read loud and clear by Minister McKenna.”
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